Get in my belly.

Nesting when you are expecting quintuplets of unknown ages can be tricky. It’s impractical to purchase 5 of everything in every category known to man. ūüôā¬†wpid-children-wardrobe-closet-design-2014-2015-4

But it’s completely impractical to do nothing as well.

So lately I have found myself stocking my freezer. Crockpot dinners of italian chicken and taco soup, chili and lemon pepper chicken, quickbreads, waffles & pancakes, breakfast burritos & sandwiches, sausage bread, and so much more.

So what else does one do when they are looking to stock their freezer with scrumdeliumptious meals for their whole family??

Troll Pinterest, of course.

That’s when I stumbled upon this gem:

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From New Leaf Wellness

And let me just tell you – wowza! I am impressed! I have done many freezer meal prep sessions in the past and they all took up the better part of 2 or even 3 days! Not cool at all. The difference with these sessions is that they are so do-able in a morning or afternoon! So on Monday morning while the kids were getting started with school for the week, I did the breakfast dishes and whipped up 7 freezer meals!

Now my goal is to NOT use them!

Yet. Whew, I hope you didn’t think I went off the rails or something like that. Who needs a freezer stocked of things they won’t use? But no, seriously, my goal for the next month or so is to stock my freezer with 7-10 meals a week and not use any of them which would mean by mid-October, I will have 40 or more meals in my freezer ready to go and then as we use them I won’t really be depleting my stash because I will keep building it each week. Make sense? Well it does to me.

With homeschooling and soccer and the crazy life of soon-to-be-Foster-and-potentially-adopt-a-basketball-team-parents we need more crockpot meals. We need more good breakfasts that are homemade and nutritious but I can’t feasibly cook every single morning¬†like I currently am.¬†I need to incorporate some balance in my life that includes working out and ensuring proper rest, so these meals while some amount of prep, are really intended to save me time.

Tomorrow we bake a LOT to stock that freezer full of delicious and nutritious foods to fill the bellies of the circus I am rockin’.

Tell me, what is your freezer stocked with??

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Paper Pregnancy

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There is no question.

Pregnancy is hard. Gestation. Growing a human. Your body is pushed to the limit and your mind races with worry of the unknown, and add to that the excitement and anticipation of the day that baby FINALLY comes into the bright shiny world and you hold her in your arms.

No one would argue that those days and weeks near the end of your pregnancy are the hardest. Every day it’s own marathon. The slow-walking waddling, the never-sleeping, the hungry-but-full, indigestion, leg cramps, get-this-baby-outta me, when-are-you-due days….

The days are filled with last minute getaways with your husband, washing and folding and prepping of the layette, stocking the freezer with meals, and praying… lots of praying.

Some people call adoption “paper pregnancy”. It’s a catchy phrase that helps to bridge the gap in understanding between what it’s like to wait on a biological child to be born into the world and waiting on an adoptive child to be born into your home. There are so many similarities, really.

While we wait for our adoptive children to be born into our home, we prepare just like any other parent. We paint rooms, we pray, and we lose sleep both in excitement and in anxious anticipation of the unknown ahead. I remember a conversation with my mom when we first explained what we were going to be doing and she asked us if we were sure, because you don’t know personalities and what if you don’t really gel?? I remember it being like a lightbulb that went off in my head: how is that any different from biological pregnancy? There are no guarantees. Plenty of biological families have struggles and personality differences and things that they face that they never would have said yes to when they were pregnant. That’s just life. More and more our passion grew for the children who, through no fault of their own, have lost their family.

As we wait to foster and adopt kids from hard places, there are a few marked differences, however.

Instead of prepping a layette, we wash & fold 20 bins of clothing of every size for boys and girls.

Instead of doctors visits and hearing the heartbeat, we have interviews and unending paperwork.

Instead of stocking the freezer, we measure ballusters & windows, lock up medicines, collect  “stuff” for every age and fill our homes with 5 twin beds and two cribs because you never really know what life is going to bring, and count smoke detectors for our homestudy house inspection.

Instead of people asking when we are due, folks stop us in church to ask us if we have adopted yet. I can’t help but look around at my crew and think to myself some sarcastic remark: “Yes, but we left those other kids at home since they aren’t really ours.” But that really wouldn’t help anyone and I am afraid my sarcasm would be lost on them.

Instead of allowing us to be “paper-pregnant” and let God do his thing with bringing us the child we were meant to parent, people see sibling groups up for auction on facebook (which is almost always bogus, by the way) and think that perhaps we’d like to peruse a catalog and shop for some kids…. “Um, I like this one, but do you have it in any other colors?” (Insert sarcastic eye-roll here)

Instead of a baby-shower and a meal train, we get intrusive questions and patronizing pats on the arm: “At least you have the two you have,” and everyone feels the need to share with you the most horrific adoption story they have ever heard of: “Are you sure you want to do that?? I knew of a family who adopted this one child from foster care and he set their house on fire and killed them all in their sleep.” Awesome. Thanks for sharing. I will keep that in mind when I am catalog shopping: “No murderous arsonists, please.”

Instead of congratulating us on the gift we await, they tell us how lucky that child will be to have us. I.can’t.even. If they only knew the redemption and grace that these children will be for us. We are not saving anyone but being saved ourselves. This is going to just have to be another whole blog post in and of itself.

Perhaps the most marked difference is the timing. Those last days and weeks of a physical pregnancy are excruciating because you are counting down the days and hitting a wall of exhaustion. You may feel impatient, but objectively, we all know that you will give birth and that baby will in fact be in your arms within a week or two of your due date. There is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. But imagine if there was no known end? Imagine if you got to the 9th month and your doctor called and said “I’m really sorry to tell you this, but there has been a small delay on our end while congress is out of session for the holidays and we are going to have to put off delivering your baby for at least a few months. We’ll be in touch.”

We have been waiting to adopt, with many kinks and turns in the road for the last decade. We have announced our paper pregnancy countless times and waited for the child to be born into our home. We know now that this broken road is one that God brought us on to prepare us for the mission he is calling us to… which is to adopt not an infant, but a sibling group. Of 3-5 kiddos.

Cara and Eric Taylor's Christmas card and adoption announcement

You read that right. 3-5 kiddos. We are pregnant with quintuplets. Of varying ages and unknown genders. Kids who are coming from chaos-ridden homes whose stories of loss and trauma we will never fully comprehend. When it comes to the nesting instinct, which is in overdrive… I am at a loss. I don’t know how many children we are waiting for. I don’t know their gender or ages so I cannot prep their bedrooms. I cannot buy them clothing. I don’t know their personalities or their likes & dislikes, and I don’t know their story that has brought them to our front door and into our arms & hearts forever. These unknowns creates a tension deep inside and is a universal experience for adoptive mothers.

But perhaps the thing that unites us to our sisters who will only ever give birth from their bodies, is the prayer of a mother’s heart.

A biological mother is…

Praying the baby comes soon but not too soon.

Praying that she is healthy & whole. And that if she is not that you will be equipped to carry that cross.

Praying that your body can do what it is supposed to do during labor & delivery.

Praying your body can withstand the trauma of being torn open as you release this new life into the world.

Praying that your family receives the new babe with as much love as you have had grow in your heart these last months.

Praying that your heart doesn’t break when that baby’s heart no longer beats beneath yours but out of you in the cold, hard world.

Praying that all this child’s hopes & dreams come true.

Praying big things over this new life that came from love.

An adoptive mother is…

Praying that her child will be home with her before his next birthday… a milestone which marks another year without a forever family. 

Praying for the woman who has given birth to the child that will call her mom.

Knowing that your child will come to you broken. Perhaps physically, but almost always emotionally. So you pray you will be equipped to carry that cross.

Praying that your body can withstand the physical ache of a child who will undoubtedly utter the words: “You’re not my real mom.”

Praying for grace for the everyday.

Praying to be made worthy of the privilege to raise another woman’s child as your own.

Praying your heart can withstand the trauma of being torn open as you recover this tenderheart from the hard places and walk with them towards towards healing.

Praying that your family receives the new child with as much love as you have had grow in your heart these last months.

Praying that your heart doesn’t break when that child’s eyes reveal the hidden tapestry of pain and abandonment that only a child who has been taken away from his parents can know.

Praying that you will one day genuinely love this child that has been entrusted to you.

Praying that you will be able to get out of the way and not be an obstacle to them experiencing the joy & healing balm that awaits them in a home full of people who are committed forever to this messy beautiful thing we call family.

Praying that your bio children will accept and love these new people in their lives that we are calling their siblings.

Praying that calling them siblings will make it so.

Praying that all this child’s hopes & dreams come true.

Praying big things over this new life that came from love.

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United in prayer for my sisters and friends who are expecting a child in their womb, and a child in their hearts. Motherhood. Any which way it finds us, it’s a blessing.

4th of July Shenanigans!

A new tradition has begun around here.

And that is celebrating the 4th out on a farm. These friends of ours, their parents have a delightful little farm (80 acres, which I don’t really call little because it’s 10 times the size we want!). There is a pond for fishing, a barn, hayrides, golf cart rides, dogs, food, toy guns, tree forts, snakes, and a hootin’- hollerin’ good time.

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These friends also happen to be the kind of awesome Catholic friends who know basically everybody. So the party was a great opportunity to see a variety of friends we know from throughout the Archdiocese. Folks Tim has worked with at the retreat center, families in our homeschool co-op, fellow pilgrims from our trip to the Holy Land, priests, and even the Archbishop! It was really quite beautiful.

One of our hosts said that he was looking around at one point, and just was taken aback that this was probably a pretty accurate slice of the communion of saints and what it will be like when we are all together partying with the Big Guy.

The kids had a blast setting off their own little fireworks and then we prayed a Chaplet of Divine Mercy for our nation before our hosts put on a beautiful fireworks show for all!

Prayer & the Practicals

Mother Theresa said “Some give by going, and others go by giving.”

We are very much GOING on this journey to care for the orphaned. If you feel led, consider joining us by giving. Primarily, we covet your prayer. Beyond that, to be Christ’s hands and feet to the least of these. To be the one who clothed the naked, gave shelter to the homeless, and fed the hungry right along side of us.

In that light, many have asked to be a part of what we are doing, by blessing us with prayer & the practicals. THANK YOU!!!! We need both! Many people have asked about what we might need for the changes about to go down in our house, so behold:

The LIST is long (and ever evolving!)

We are outfitting 2 rooms with basically everything & anything one could need to raise & care for up to 6 kids ages 0-10years at the drop of a hat. Literally, we could get a call at 10:43 at night and have a boatload of kids move in within the hour. It happens. For real.

With that in mind, here are where things stand for us. We are working every day on the gigantic list of thingsthatneeddoingaroundthehouse  and we are scouring the internet for good deals on the following, but perhaps you have a sister in law who wants to get rid of a dresser? Or great aunt louise wants to finally be rid of those bunkbeds in her garage? Think of us, would you? We have a pretty nifty way giving new life to old things and are happy to give that old piece of furniture a whole new story!

Room 1 – We need:

Bunkbeds – the metal kind with a full on bottom & twin up top (thanks to dear friends, this is fulfilled!)

Trundle- for underneath

Dresser – preferably a 6 drawer dresser (the ones that sit horizontally)

and

Room 2 –

Bunkbeds Рtwin over twin Рthey need to be able to separate.

Dresser –¬†preferably a 6 drawer dresser –¬†on our Amazon wishlist

Portable Crib –¬† on our Amazon wishlist

and for anyone wishing to bless these kiddos in ways that you feel led, we will always humbly accept Target gift cards which we can use for Formula, diapers, clothes, toiletries, books, and yummy healthy food! And Ikea gift cards we can use for bedding, storage solutions, furniture and super cool toys for the kiddos we will be caring for! And Amazon gift cards for everything we can think of that we can have shipped right to our door the very next day.

We have an Amazon Wish List here full of more practicals:

http://amzn.com/w/1VFC44M23IIK1

*You’ll notice an awful lot of pjs & cinch bags on the Amazon wishlist – more on that soon – hatching a plan to bless MANY local orphans!!!¬†

If you feel led to give in any way, big or small, just leave a message here with your email address and I will happily get in touch with you.

Blessings!

xo

Stacey

Walking through Fire

foster care

The compelling call of the Gospel. Open your homes. ¬†Practice Christ-like hospitality. For many years for us, this has meant throwing parties and always saying yes when someone asked for help in big ways or small. Welcoming people of all ages into our home – even if it meant some amount of personal sacrifice. It’s the charism of hospitality that is intrinsically linked to our adoption story. Our adoption journey has very little to do with our secondary infertility and more to do with a heed to be Christ’s hands and feet here & now. To love in the messy. To care for the orphaned.

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I am not going to go into all the details of our adoption journey here now because that post is a longer one to write and I am just not there right now. But, sufficed to say, God has been a relentless hound in placing the call to care for the orphaned on our hearts. Through all the ups and downs He has called us back into the fire time & time again. Some would say “Enough is enough. You guys have been through the ringer. Aren’t you just tired of opening yourselves up to hurt?” To that I simply respond, “Our pain is nothing. There are orphaned children who have been through a ringer much more excruciating than anything we could ever fathom. They haven’t asked for this pain. They haven’t asked to become orphans. No, we are not done. We will walk through fire to tend to the hearts of the orphaned. Period.”

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So we continue on our journey towards adoption one day. And in the meantime, we heed the call of the Father to open our homes. To the least of these. To the orphaned. For a night, for a week, for a year. We will give them everything and they will transform our lives. We are joyfully expectant, waiting on the children He would have us to care for. We are becoming FOSTER PARENTS! Some might ask: “So are you giving up on adopting?” To that we answer a resounding “No!” And further, “We just know that we are broadening our own scope of what it means to care for the orphaned. Foster care, adoption, service, and prayer. It’s more than just opening our home & family to a child we can give our last name to. It’s opening our home and our family to love those He entrusts to us, even for a short time.”

today, in this moment

We believe that this is what He meant when he asked us to welcome the children in His name. So we are being obedient to the call He has laid on our hearts.

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So if you need me anytime soon, I am up to my ears in to-do lists as we navigate all the paperwork and do all the hundred little things to get the house ready to pass inspection to prepare for licensing.  More on how we are preparing to be foster parents on another day.  For now, this made me chuckle:

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A meal is never just a meal.

Today the kids and I spent the day in the kitchen. I have been wanting to pass along some of our favorite family recipes and really teach them how to make them over the next several years.

A gal I met at a homeschool gathering had this genius idea for teaching kids to cook:

Pick the meal. Make it the same night 4 weeks in a row.

The first week, the kids basically watch you cook, and you talk them through some of the steps.

The second week, the kids help you in the actual making of it Рyou showing them how to measure everything, walk through the steps, etc.

The third week, they make the meal with YOUR assistance.

The fourth week, they make the meal without your help! And voila! You have taught your child how to make a recipe from start to finish and they have confidence in executing it!

This is something I will be doing this summer and throughout the school year as a part of homeschooling. It’s just such a valuable skill that I can’t not do this for my children.

This was week one. We made one of our family’s most treasured recipes. This recipe is not only incredibly delicious but also filled with a story of a dear old friend.

The story goes a little something like this. Years ago, we were in a season of intense grief. Our baby that we were adopting had died at 36 weeks and we were beside ourselves in sadness. Only one family brought us a meal. It’s funny the things you remember, huh? Well, that meal was brought by a dear friend, Laurie. And it was this delicious pasta you could eat hot or cold. We loved it because it was so tasty¬†and also because it tasted like love. The love and compassion of a friend who knew that while she couldn’t do anything to heal our grief, the meal she made us could be a comfort. And a comfort it was.

We loved that meal so much, that months later when I came out of my fog, I remember emailing her for the recipe. She replied quickly and attached the recipe and we began making this meal both for our family, but also to give away to other families as regularly as possible.

Months turned to years and I didn’t see my friend much. Then one day, the unthinkable happened.

This beautiful homeschooling mama of many littles was standing in her kitchen one moment while life clattered on beautifully all around her. And the next moment she was on the floor, gone. Just. gone.

An aneurysm took the life of this holy, kind, and compassionate woman.

And so this recipe, this meal, it takes on a whole new meaning every time I prepare it. It draws me deeper into prayer for¬†Laurie’s husband and children, and for their entire family who have grieved her. It encourages me to pray for all families who have lost someone. It grows my capacity to love and to be love & compassion to others.

This is why this recipe matters. These are the lessons I want my children to remember. A meal is rarely ever just a meal. It can taste like love, and compassion, and holiness, and community, and courage, and beauty. So the moments we spend pouring over a recipe or working the sauce until it’s just right… these are moments pregnant with grace. These are the moments we taste the divine.

The kids chose this meal to be the one they would make this week. They planned the menu, all the while knowing that we would be making TWO of this meal so as to bless another family with a full meal tonight.

So I texted a dear friend and told her to not plan anything for dinner, and that we were bringing her a meal. She is 7 months pregnant with her 6th boy and they are in the middle of moving. I knew it wasn’t a big deal as she is not sick or bedridden or anything, but it was a little something we could do to just say, ‘hey, we love you guys’.

They called when dinner was over and each of their boys got on the phone with my son (Emma was at soccer) to tell him their favorite part of the meal. It was a delight to watch his face light up as each of his friends told him what they enjoyed. This was a tangible act of service that he will remember for years to come.

The blessing of this meal is that it helped us to re-learn the lessons of grace & compassion as well as a spirit of generosity! See? A meal is never really just a meal.

Farm to Table indeed

Today we ventured out in the rain to hit up our local Farmer’s Market.¬†It was just my boy & I since sister was sick.¬†We meandered through the various booths offering their delicious bounty.

Timmy got to talk with local farmers and even do some of the purchasing!¬†They were having raffles throughout the day, and Timmy won!! He was super excited, but was hoping for a pie instead of onions & beets. ūüôā¬†We got drenched on the way home,¬†but all told had a total blast exploring the market and shopping for some local delicious food.

Our dinner tonight will be Farm to Table indeed.