Changes

Right off the bat, I’ll let you know that this a casual ‘this is what’s been going on in our neck of the woods’ kind of post and not some super duper dramatic thing. I struggle with writing these posts because every time I start them they just feels so serious and ugh, just no. I can’t stand that. I’m trying to find a way to be a more open blogger and express my thoughts and feelings more with you guys but I struggle with that. So much. I just haven’t found that sharing boundary line–you know sharing enough but not too much kind of boundary. I’m  just telling it to you like it is and I hope that you appreciate my honesty and straightforwardness.

OK! So, we have a had a lot going on the last six months and I thought I would share! I’ve already told you about Lemon and my back stuff and those were some really big changes. My brother got engaged this spring and is getting married in September and we’ve been preparing for that. Part of all this physical therapy and pushing myself so hard is so that I can travel to Nashville for the wedding.acs_0900

The biggest change has been on the work front. Sam, who has worked at the same company for the entirety of our marriage(twelves years people) moved jobs to a new company. We are so excited for this new chapter but whew has it been a doozy! It’s a totally new schedule/work setup that we are adjusting too–one so far, that we both love. Sam went from working at an 9-5 office job to working from home. Oh, and did I mention he will be traveling too?acs_0901

Honestly, I love having Sam work from home. We haven’t figured out the work space issues yet, but honestly it’s going pretty smoothly. I try to stay out of his hair, though I catch myself talking to him when he’s trying to work. Overall, I love it, he loves it. He hasn’t traveled that much yet, but that’s sure to pick up soon. I didn’t think it would be good for me to be in an empty house while Sam is away and we went back and forth for a while about the best solution for the issue.

I really want another dog. I miss Lemon something fierce but trying to take care of a puppy right now just isn’t the best idea. I’m still working on my day to day endurance and strengthening my body and taking care of a puppy would be too much strain. I think we will eventually get a dog when I’m in shape to chase a puppy on my own. A cat wasn’t my first choice, not because I don’t like cats, it’s just a litter box issue. We have a small apartment and I don’t have a laundry room to stow a little box in. But we figured out a solution and went to Operation Kindness(whom I highly recommend) and adopted two cats.

Originally, it was just supposed to be one cat but you know how that goes. We ended up looking at two kittens from the same litter(we didn’t know that before we looked at them)and Sam we couldn’t bear to separate them. May I present the boys Peregrin Took and Meriadoc Brandybuck–Pip and Merry for short. acs_0840I’m a writer and I couldn’t pass up this golden once in a life time opportunity to name two male sibling CATS after the cousin hobbits from Lord of the Rings(underline). The names fit them perfectly by the way.acs_0879acs_0878acs_0880The Hobbits as we call them have been a handful! They were sick and had to go back and forth to the Operation Kindness vet for a few weeks until they were well enough to come home permanently. And they are into everything like kittens usually are. But it’s been fun and we’ve really enjoyed watching them chase each other and rip around the house. It’s been joyful. Pip is the golden boy but Merry is the snuggler. They are adorable.acs_0897acs_0898Our apartment got repainted last Friday and I could not be more excited! I’m in the middle of redecorating our living room and it’s been like going to Disney World! That’s how awesome it is! I’ve been staring at that same beige paint for the last eleven years and I was so so so ready for a change. We also got rid of the red couch we’ve had for an equal amount of time. It was a good couch for a long time but it was time for it to be put out to pasture. I’m really looking forward to show you guys our redecorated living room in a couple of months–once I get it done.img_6407

For the last month or so–since I could climb the stairs again–I’ve been working steadily on my middle grade manuscript. It’s been incredible the progress I’ve made. I really really hope to have the first draft soon. Like, so so soon. I want to make a living writing books and I’m determined to see it through. I’m so passionate about this manuscript. I come alive writing for children and I’m really good at it–and I understand what an awesome thing it is to be able to say that. Not many people can write for children and even less of those people love it and are as passionate as I am. I love writing for children. It’s the best audience I could imagine. I confess, my dream is to get my manuscript signed with a publisher this year. So there’s been a lot going on for me.acs_0885

Trying to translate what my day to day looks like to non-writers is difficult because from the outside it looks like I just sit all day. Sit and write, sit and read, sit and research, repeat. But from the inside I’m running around in a complete and totally different universe; orchestrating, observing, cataloging, asking questions, adventuring, and feeling. When I get done at the end of the day I’m exhausted most of the time–but in the best way. I’m trying to find better ways of sharing that side of my life with “the outside world”.

So that’s a little bit of whats been going on with us. Soon, I want to share our loft we turned into a home library. It’s not complete because my back went out in the middle of it, but I’d like to show you the progress we’ve made and my ideas for the rest of it.

We have plans for the Fourth of July with friends and we plan on watching the fireworks at KaBOOM town. I hope y’all have a fun and safe Independence Day. I’ll be back soon with more DIY projects and my summer reading list. In the mean time check out this adorable blow up sprinkler I’ve been trying to find an excuse to buy, and these gold sandals that I am living in this summer, and this artist I’m dying to work with.

Maegan

An Autumn Recap

Where did fall go? I feel like it was just here and now tomorrow is December 1st and the Christmas season is already in full swing. I have missed you guys so much! It’s completely inexcusable how long I’ve been absent and I can’t wait to catch up! So much has happened in the last few months and I can’t wait to get you all caught up on what’s been going on in my life. And I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. This is going to be a long one so you’ll probably want to grab your favorite beverage and a snack.

So the last in-depth post left us back in September right before my birthday. I made the decision to take a quick break from social media during my birthday weekend this year and a lot of you were wondering where I went. To be honest, I was dreading my birthday this year, but it ended up being one of the best birthday’s I’ve had in a long time. It was low-key but in the best way. Sam custom ordered unicorn cupcakes from Gigi’s for my birthday and then took me to Kendra Scott for some birthday shopping. Then we went to see Crazy Rich Asians at the Alamo Draft House–best place to see a movie–and it was so good! I loved it so much I put it on my Christmas wish list.The next day I got to meet Alicia Yoon at a local Ulta–she and her team have been on tour throughout America since she launched her line of skin care with Ulta–and I got to check that off my bucket list. And she told me I had beautiful skin!!!! OMG. I about died in the floor. That is such an incredible compliment coming from someone who’s skin is the MOST flawless, beautiful skin I’ve ever seen. Like glass skin perfection. It was unreal. And she was the most down to earth, sweet person. There’s a saying about never meeting your hero’s because you’ll be disappointed but that’s not true because meeting Alicia in person was more wonderful that I expected. It was the best!Sam and I rounded out my birthday weekend with a trip to the Dallas Zoo the next day. The weather was cool and overcast so we didn’t melt and I got to feed the giraffes–which is pretty much why I go to the zoo–several times because there were no crowds to fight. It was an unexpectedly happy and eventful birthday. I was relieved.Then the next few days Sam and I spent packing for our family trip to Gulf Shores, AL. I’m telling you, I checked a lot of things off my bucket list this year. I’ve always wanted to visit Alabama ever since Reese Witherspoon’s Sweet Home Alabama movie. And I fell in LOVE with Alabama! Honestly, I think I could live there. We were supposed to be spending a lot of time off shore fishing but then hurricane Michael came in. And though hurricane Michael missed Gulf Shores it still affected the water so we weren’t able to get out into the Gulf. But we still tried our hand at fishing in the few surrounding bays. We didn’t catch much but we did have a lot of fun! For a Texas girl it was odd to see all those big trees growing right up to the banks of salt water. I loved it though. It felt more like lake fishing in a way until a porpoise or stingray would surface next to the boat. We went down to the beach the last day we were there and I got to experience my first ever hurricane up close. We could see the edge of the hurricane swirling just off shore–it was eerie. I’ve never seen the ocean so angry either. The waves really did roar and thunder and beat against one another. It was fascinating and frightening. The last day I started to feel like I had a cold coming on. And I was really miserable on the drive home. We got home and went to the doctor for medication and was sick with a bad virus for two weeks. Then Sam got sick and overall it took about a month for the both of us to get over it. The week after we got back Sam’s parents came to visit for the weekend and after they went home they both got sick as well. We spent most of the month of October just trying to get over our illness.Meanwhile I had been brain storming whether or not I wanted to start a beauty YouTube. I have so many people text, snap, and insta-message me about skin care and makeup that I had decided to start a YouTube. I did my research on how to get started, what equipment I would need, etc and made my announcement on insta-stories. But then three days later as I was waiting for equipment to come in the mail and working on my book Lemon got attacked during an evening walk by a dog at a local park. Our Halloween plans were canceled. We took Lemon the very next morning(Halloween) to the vet and it was an ordeal. Lemon had to have surgery and then be in a cone for two weeks before she could get her stitches out. She also had to adhere to strict bed-rest which meant my constant supervision–unless I kept her in her kennel. I felt so heartless making her stay confined. And besides that, she was in a drunken stupor for several days after her surgery and she kept us up half the night crying the first night–very anti-Lemon behavior. We think it was the disorientation from the anesthesia. So I got pretty much nothing done for two weeks.Meanwhile, I tried filming my first video for my YouTube channel twice and both times the film was unusable. I had no idea how complicated trying to film would be. There were a lot of user errors and then some of the equipment I was using just wasn’t working–like my battery wouldn’t stay charged and my SD cards were too small. I got really overwhelmed. I was also trying to work on my manuscript as well which pretty much got pushed out of the picture. I thought I would sit down and film for an hour and be done but the very first time I filmed it took me six hours. Yes, six hours. That’s insane. YouTube is no joke people.As I was trying to figure out the YouTube stuff I realized I had let the October and November go almost completely by without posting any pictures of my fall decor or talk about the improvements we made to the loft. I also needed to start prepping for Christmas and our upcoming trip to Denver.

Then I had a dentist appointment to have my implant measured for its crown that went’ dreadfully. It put me out of commission for several days and had to be rescheduled. I went again a few days ago as of writing this and found out that the implant is good so we can proceed. It’s been an ordeal. All the dental work I’ve done this year has been ridiculous and really time-consuming in a way that I can’t really show on social media. I still have another appointment in December and let’s just say I’ll be so relieved when this is all over.We alternate holidays with our families and this year Sam’s family decided to forgo getting together for Christmas and to meet the first week of December in Denver. So that meant Sam and I would be alone for Thanksgiving and I needed to get a menu prepped for that as well. But as we rolled into the week of Thanksgiving we got last-minute tickets to see the Cowboys play on Thanksgiving day. There are people who plan and save their whole life to get to be at a Cowboys game on Thanksgiving day and I am so blessed to have gotten to do that. And if you saw the game or watched it from home you know it was an awesome game! The Cowboys played really well and they won! It was a spectacular Thanksgiving day. Another thing to check off my bucket list

And somewhere in the middle of all that I missed my one year blog anniversary! I have officially been blogging for one year and I’m so very proud of myself. I hope to have many years of blogging ahead of me!

As I type this Sam and I are getting ready to go out of town to Denver for our late Thanksgiving with family. I don’t remember a year that Sam and I traveled so much and I am grateful beyond measure. We have so much fun activities planned for our Denver trip I can’t wait to share them here when I get back. We will have very little time between this upcoming trip and Christmas in Nashville. I’m hoping for a white Christmas this year!

I hope you all had a yummy, satisfying, and thankful Thanksgiving. Thanks for hanging out here until the end of this post. Thanks for hanging in there and waiting for me to return. I appreciate your investment.

Maegan

Our 2018 Fall Bucket List: A Maegan Johnson Blog Post

Our Fall Bucket List

Fall is my favorite. And, I don’t care what any of you may believe, I love fall more than anyone anywhere! Don’t misunderstand–I’m so glad I’m surrounded by others who love fall like myself–it’s just never going to be as much as me. My birthday lands on the first day of fall and its like the official fall kick-off party. The respite from the hellacious temperatures, the annual Monarch Butterfly migration that swirled though my town every year as a kid, sweater weather, and football season, drinking hot cocoa on aluminum bleachers that could turn your butt into a Popsicle, the knit hats, and the promise of crisp nights and cool morning walks with my dog; it’s just the best. A fall bucket list is practically my love letter to the season.

FALL BUCKET LIST:

Dallas Arboretum – Autumn at the Arboretum

The Texas State Fair

Texas Discovery Gardens

Day trip to East Texas to see the Fall Foliage

Carve Pumpkins

Make Apple Cider

Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING!

Dress Lemon up for Halloween

Crisp evening walks with Sam

Make bourbon apple pie

Wear all my favorite sweaters . . . And all my scarves too!

Wear dark lipstick

Lay under a warm blanket and read good books

Read 10 books from Sept. 21st – Nov 30th.

Celebrate my Birthday

Watch non-scary Halloween movies

Knitting in the evenings

Trips to the Dallas Zoo

The Dallas Arboretum: Autumn at the Arboretum event which begins on September 22rd-Nov 21st. Thier fall festival is a spectacular show of color with 4,500 of fall’s favorite flower-Chrysanthemums, along with 150,000 more stunning, fall blooming plants, and thier internationally acclaimed Pumpkin Village, featuring more than 90,000 pumpkins, squash and gourds, plus the outstanding Children’s Adventure Garden. Don’t miss this amazing festival and be sure to bring your camera. It is breathtaking color at every turn.  It’s incredibly impressive and makes for a great photo opp. Plus it’s a great excuse to grab a “sack lunch” at the nearby Eatzies and have a picnic overlooking White Rock Lake.

Several days later the Texas State Fair begins! Sam and I go to the fair to see Big Tex, ride the giant Ferris wheel, eat a Fletcher’s Corny Dog, visit the amazing vegetable gardens and Texas Discovery Gardens, the petting zoo and the pig races(they are hilarious). And bonus: the Monarch Butterflies will be migrating south during the fair and the Texas Discovery Garden ground’s have planted flowers that specifically attract the Monarchs. If you get lucky you might even get to see them catching and tagging the butterflies to track them!

This year Sam and I have made plans to see the fall foliage in East Texas. The trees in most parts of Texas don’t turn for the fall–mainly because most Texas native trees and shrubs are evergreen–and that’s something I miss seeing. I’m already looking forward to our day trip and will share more with y’all when we go in late October.

Anyway, those are just some of the big things Sam and I do every year together during the fall. It doesn’t mean the simpler things on our bucket list are less important though. Laying under a warm blankets on a cool fall afternoon and reading a good book is practically Heaven.

I know you probably love fall like I do and probably have a bucket list of your own. I’d love to know what you put on yours. If you live in the DFW area and have a recommendation I’d love to that too!

Maegan

The Last of Summer, A Review of Summer and Living Room Tour, Maegan K Johnson Blog

The Last of Summer

The end of summer is finally are upon us. There were many house renovations and projects and a whole bucket list of summer activities–only half of which were accomplished. I always begin looking froward to fall every year about this time as the summer heat has worn its welcome and my desire for cooler weather is thwarted by the knowledge that the heat wont be letting up until late September or October.The Last of Summer, A Review of Summer and Living Room Tour, Maegan K Johnson Blog

I’m enjoying the last bit of my regular house decor before I take it all down–like the madwoman my husband thinks I am–and decorate for fall. I wont see the burnished coppers and bright reds of fall until almost winter so I make up for the sun-scorched grass and ever-green oak trees with a homage to fall in my home.The Last of Summer, A Review of Summer and Living Room Tour, Maegan K Johnson Blog

My manuscript plans were thwarted by the two weeks in July I lay in bed with the most horrible tooth and jaw pain. And I in no way got to the end of my reading list. The tooth pain also got in the way of my master bedroom closet renovation and the repainting of my upstairs office–such is life. The 110 degree weather killed my Doris Day rose bush but Sam is having a wonderful crop of cucumbers and we have made at least six jars of pickles in the last three weeks. The Last of Summer, A Review of Summer and Living Room Tour, Maegan K Johnson Blog

Sam and I did manage to go record shopping several times this summer to my utter delight. We have plans to get the loft painted soon and the closet renovation was finally finished. I didn’t feel the need to get everything on our summer bucket list done because it’s a guideline and not a rule. Whenever Sam and I needed something to do we had our bucket list to rely on and otherwise we made our own fun. We are true homebodies and enjoy just being at home together–so it’s a real shock I didn’t get through my reading list. The Last of Summer, A Review of Summer and Living Room Tour, Maegan K Johnson Blog

I did manage to finish a moderate knitting project that is now tucked away to be wrapped as a Christmas gift. We are soaking up the last of our summer at home before the holidays arrive. My birthday is next month and then we have plans to travel to Alabama for a family vacation in October. I plan to visit my parents in Tennessee sometime in November since I wasn’t able to visit during the summer. And then of course, there is Thanksgiving and Christmas for which we always travel seven hours or more to be with family. The Last of Summer, A Review of Summer and Living Room Tour, Maegan K Johnson Blog

I have always wondered what life would be like to stay in my hometown or even my own home every holiday. I never have had the privilege my whole life. What is that like? If that is you, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What’s it like to be able to sleep in your own bed after spending the day with family for the holidays? It must be so nice, I would think.

Here’s to enjoying the last dog days of summer.

Maegan – xx

Unsung Heroes: The Baker Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care Series

Unsung Heroes: The Baker Family

If you are new here I have been hosting a foster care series for the last three weeks called Unsung Heroes. The last three Mondays I have featured a foster mom and her family that has stood out for her devotion, dedication, and advocacy for all foster children. These women and their families are the Robin Hoods, the Dark Nights of our time–average people like you and me daring to change the world. I interviewed each foster mom about the ins and outs of foster care from the most commonly asked questions to the most sensitive. I’m confident that you’ll not only be inspired by each woman but may have some of your own questions answered and possibly leave with a new perspective!

Our final series family are the Bakers. Amy and her husband Curt live in Baltimore, Maryland with their three beautiful children: Henry age four, who they recently adopted from foster care; and their two beautiful foster children Finn, age three, and June, twelve months. Amy is a wedding photographer with a beautiful farmhouse Instagram page called @ournottinghamcottage and her husband Curt is a sales manager. They love spending time together as a family, thrifting, refurbishing furniture, and family movie nights. The Bakers have been fostering for one year.
Unsung Heroes: The Baker Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care SeriesMaegan: Amy, I’m so honored to have you and your family as my final series guests on the blog today. Let’s dive right in–what made you and Curt decide foster care was for your family?

Amy: I have wanted to since I can remember and when I met my husband it’s something we were both called to do.

Maegan: Timing is always a topic that comes up in foster care. When did you and Curt know it was ‘time’?

Amy: After we got married we were immediately ready to start our family and started the certification process about 6 months after our wedding.

Unsung Heroes: The Baker Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care SeriesMaegan: What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge as a foster parent?

Amy: All of the appointments and how busy your life instantly changes overnight.

Maegan: What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a foster parent?

Amy: Make sure you and your spouse are 1000% on the same page and are open for love and heartbreak. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and say no if you aren’t ready yet.

Maegan: If you could give one piece of advice to a new foster parent what would it be?

Amy: Surround yourself with support. Whether that’s family, friends, or other foster parents having someone there to walk through this journey with you. My second piece of advice is ADVOCATE for your foster children.

Unsung Heroes: The Baker Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care SeriesMaegan: What is your goal as a foster parent?

Amy: Our goal started out to build our family with children who do not have a chance to have a full life. Since we have started, we have had the privilege to foster 7 children total. We have adopted one through the foster to adopt program, 2 long-term foster children, and 3 emergency weekend placements. Our goal now is to love each child unconditionally until their biological family is ready to get them back and in our long term placements, adoption.

Unsung Heroes: The Baker Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care SeriesMaegan: Fostering is not sustainable lifestyle and it’s important to have a plan before beginning. Does your family have a set of goals you plan to or a specific end date?

Amy: We are planning to foster until we have adopted 3 children. When our children reach at least 10 years old, we plan to restart fostering older children.

Maegan: What is the best thing about being a foster parent?

Amy: The opportunity to be in each child’s life. It’s truly the greatest gift to be able to impact these children and love on them.

Unsung Heroes: The Baker Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care SeriesMaegan: Attachment is one of, if not the biggest, concern most non-foster parents have about becoming a foster parent themselves. What are your thoughts on attachment?

Amy: Attachment is KEY for these children, it’s usually their biggest need when they come into care. I’m not going to sugar coat it and say that doesn’t make this process extremely challenging and constantly bittersweet. We were beyond scared to start this process and get our hearts broken. We are currently in the middle of a potential reunification for one of our foster children we’ve had since birth. I can’t count how many tears have been shed during this process but we have been able to give this child the ability to attach to her biological family because we made sure she felt like she was part of our family.

Unsung Heroes: The Baker Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care SeriesMaegan: Why are you passionate about foster care?

Amy: Because there are children who need second chances and biological parents who need them too. Any of us could be in the situation these people are in.

Maegan: If you could only use three words to describe the certification process, what would they be? Why those words?

Amy: Exciting, tedious, informative

Unsung Heroes: The Baker Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care Series

Maegan: There is a great need for foster parents all across America. Could you list some of the statistics for your area?

Amy: In 2017 Maryland reported 51,349 charges of neglect or abuse. In Baltimore City the number of foster children has varied from 2,000 – 6,000 in the last few years. From my research I could not find an exact amount at this current time but Baltimore City (which is where we’re certified) is extremely high.

Unsung Heroes: The Baker Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care Series

Thank you so much Amy for letting me interview you today. And thank you so very much for all the hard work you and Curt do as a foster parents. And thank you for being a shining light to all foster children.

I hoped you enjoyed hearing from Amy and all our other foster moms, and that you learned something new today. Please leave Amy some love here in the comments and Instagram–foster parents need lots of encouragement and support! If you personally know Amy and Curt I’m asking that you to support them with your hands this week. Call and ask when you can come over and do some laundry and/or wash some dishes or bring them dinner. Don’t call and ask what you can do–call and say your coming over to help or bring a meal. And then pray for them! It takes a community to foster–it takes lots of help. So, show Amy and Curt how much you appreciate all they do by lending a helping hand. If you’d like to follow along on the Baker family’s journey you can find them here on Instagram!

Thank you to all the foster families who participated in my feature and thank you to all of you who have faithfully followed along. I hope you’ve been inspired and motivated!

Follow these links for the Paxson FamilyDoss Family, and Wright Family features!

Maegan –xx

Unsung Heroes: The Wright Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care Series

Unsung Heroes: The Wright Family

If you are new here I am hosting a four-week foster care series called Unsung Heroes. Each Monday I am featuring a foster mom and her family that has stood out for her devotion, dedication, and advocacy for all foster children. These women and their families are the Robin Hoods, the Dark Nights of our time–average people like you and me daring to change the world. I interviewed each foster mom about the ins and outs of foster care from the most commonly asked questions to the most sensitive. I’m confident that you’ll not only be inspired by each woman but may have some of your own questions answered and possibly leave with a new perspective!

This week’s family is very near and dear to our heart. We are blessed to call them long time friends as we have known Patty since we were in high school.  Their shining example as foster parents is one of the reasons why Sam and I decided to become foster parents ourselves. My guests this week are Patty and Ash Wright. Patty and Ash live in the Texas Hill Country and have a beautiful eight year old son, NRW, whom they adopted through foster care, and their wonder-dog Ranger. Patty is a stay at home mom (with a killer home decor Instagram FostermomFarmhouse) and her husband Ash is a political consultant. They love spending time together as a family and enjoy church, traveling, nights at the Austin Spurs basketball games, camping, fishing, family game nights and watching NRW play sports. The Wrights have been fostering for three years.

Unsung Heroes: The Wright Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care SeriesMaegan: Patty, I’m so excited to have you as my series guest this week. I know we’ve talked about this before but what made you decide foster care was for your family?

Patty: After years of infertility, we started praying about how to grow our family! We had a coworker who had just adopted from foster care and their family referred us to their foster agency! We went to an informational meeting and we started paperwork the day of our first meeting!

Maegan: Timing is always a topic that comes up in foster care. When did you and Ash know it was ‘time’?

Patty: Very quickly after we learned about foster care and the growing need in Texas, Ash and I both felt like God was calling us to be foster parents! We were both excited and ready to provide love and safety to little Texans in need!

Unsung Heroes: The Wright Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care SeriesMaegan: What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge as a foster parent?

Patty: The greatest challenge as a foster parent is the uncertainty associated with foster care in many different aspects! Every foster case is different and it is almost impossible to predict how long a child will be placed with you! We were eager to adopt and we fostered several children before we were blessed to adopt our son!

Maegan: What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a foster parent?

Patty: We always encourage people who are considering foster care to research foster agencies in their area and attend an informational meeting to learn as much as possible. There is such a need for good families to foster and we want to help change the negative stigmas associated with foster care.

Unsung Heroes: The Wright Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care SeriesMaegan: If you could give one piece of advice to a new foster parent what would it be?

Patty: Don’t give up!  There will be hard times but always remember why you decided to foster in the first place!

Maegan: What is your goal as a foster parent?

Patty: To provide a safe, loving home for children! We believe in God’s plan for our lives and we believe we are doing our part in helping children placed in tough situations.   We also hope to adopt from foster care again!

Unsung Heroes: The Wright Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care SeriesMaegan: Fostering is not sustainable lifestyle and it’s important to have a plan before beginning. Does your family have a set of goals you plan to or a specific end date?

Patty: No, we hope to provide a safe home for many children for many years to come!

Maegan: What is the best thing about being a foster parent?

Patty: Watching our foster children grow and learn is the best thing for us! When we think about how far our son has come in the past three years, we are so thankful that we were chosen to be his parents!

Unsung Heroes: The Wright Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care SeriesMaegan: Attachment is one of, if not the biggest, concern most non-foster parents have about becoming a foster parent themselves. What are your thoughts on attachment?

Patty: It is super important for foster parents to teach children in their care about normal bonding and attachment practices. Most often, children in care are coming from a place of abuse and neglect and are actually craving attachment. It is important to treat each child in your care as “your own” for as long as you are blessed to have them!

Maegan: Why are you passionate about foster care?

Patty: Our world is a broken place and we want to provide a safe home for children who are put in impossible situations. It is our job as Christians to take care of those in need and we are thankful that we have the resources to do so!

Unsung Heroes: The Wright Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care SeriesMaegan: If you could only use three words to describe the certification process, what would they be? Why those words?

Patty:

  • Paperwork-There is A LOT. Start with the easy pages and get those finish quickly!  Look over the more extensive questions and think about what you’re going to say before starting. Save the hardest for last!
  • Commitment-Do not get scared of the paperwork, trainings and information! Push through and keep your focus on becoming licensed!
  • Excitement-Becoming certified as a foster parent is such an exciting time! Don’t let the process overwhelm you!

Unsung Heroes: The Wright Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care SeriesMaegan: There is a great need for foster parents all across America. Could you list some of the statistics for your area?

Patty:

  • On average, there are 7 children each night sleeping on cots at CPS offices while waiting on a foster home.
  • In 2015, there were 415,129 children in foster care in the US.
    • In Texas: 27,895 children
    • In Austin: 3,568

Unsung Heroes: The Wright Family, A Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Care SeriesThank you so Patty for letting me interview you today. And thank you so very much for all the hard work you and Ash do as a foster parents. And thank you for being a shining light to all foster children.

I hoped you enjoyed hearing from Patty and that you learned something new today. Please leave her some love here in the comments and Instagram–foster parents need lots of encouragement and support! If you personally know Patty and Ash I’m asking that you to support them with your hands this week. Call and ask when you can come over and do some laundry and/or wash some dishes or bring them dinner. Don’t call and ask what you can do–call and say your coming over to help or bring a meal. And then pray for them! It takes a community to foster–it takes lots of help. So, show Patty and Ash how much you appreciate all they do by lending a helping hand. If you’d like to follow along on the Wright family’s journey you can find them here on Instagram!

Follow these links for the Paxson Family and the Doss Family features!

Maegan –xx

Unsung Heroes: The Doss Family

This week’s Unsung Heroes Family Feature is the Doss family. Shelby and her husband Jerod–also known as Boogie–have two beautiful children, Layla age four and Pheonix age two, through adoption via foster care. This sweet family lives in Oklahoma and have been fostering for three and a half years! Shelby is a mom, photographer, writer and speaker and her husband Boogie is a minister. The Doss family loves Jesus, traveling, living room dance parties, Disney, and adventuring!

Maegan: Shelby, I am so glad to have you and your family as my guests today! So tell me, what made you and Boogie decide foster care was for your family?

Shelby: My husband and I knew we wanted to adopt before we were even married. About a year after tying the knot we started looking into how we would be able to fulfill that desire. We knew that it would be expensive and we wanted to start working on it right away (being 20 we knew it would be a while before we had the funds needed) that’s when I stumbled upon foster care. We saw the great need and we knew this is the route we needed to take.

Maegan: Timing is a topic that always comes up when talking about foster care. When did y’all know it was ‘time’?

Shelby: We had been talking about starting the process of getting certified to foster but since we didn’t know anyone personally who had done it, we didn’t even know where to start. One day while my husband was at work I decided I was going to call our local DHHR. When I called the woman on the other line they had classes starting in a week or so and signed us up! That woman ended up being our first home finder and it all just felt like it was meant to be. After that phone call I called my husband and told him we were about to start our journey. It’s hard to explain but It all just felt right.

Unsung Heroes The Doss Family a Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Family Feature Foster LoveMaegan: What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge as a foster parent?

Shelby: The biggest challenge to foster parents is not letting fear win. It’s easy to let the fear and anxiety creep in and take over. You’re in high stress situations, advocating, court hearings, meetings, therapy, facilitating visits, navigating relationships with biological family, all while doing your ‘normal’ everyday life. Don’t let the fear steal your joy. When you’re waiting to hear back from a worker about how court went, when goodbye is looming, or when you feel like no one is in your child’s corner-don’t let fear win. Don’t let it steal the moments you have RIGHT now. Don’t let it take the good that is there. Don’t let the thought of goodbye keep you from the joy of hello. Don’t think because you might not be with them forever that right now doesn’t matter. Fear is a lie.

Maegan: I have a lot of people ask for advice. What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a foster parent?

Shelby: Know your limits. No one can say ‘yes’ to every situation. And even though it is going to hurt when you have to say ‘no’, know that your no is someone’s yes! Know what you are capable of taking on at this point in your life. That likely will change and grow as your parent, learn the system, and become more knowledgable about parenting kids from hard places. But, especially in the beginning make sure you know what you and your spouse are ready to take on.

Maegan: If you could give one piece of advice to a new foster parent what would it be?

Shelby: Give grace. Give grace to yourself, to your child, to their biological parent, to the system. You will never be wrong in this-we could always use more of it. This doesn’t mean let everything go and just go with the flow. DON’T DO THAT! Advocate, speak up, protect, push for better! But while doing all of this recognize that we are all human and likely doing the best we can. We have a broken system and it can be disheartening and frustrating but, just like any relationship working together will get a lot more accomplished than continually pointing out shortcomings. Treat the system and the birth family as if we are all on the same side-because we should be! The side of the child.

Unsung Heroes The Doss Family a Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Family Feature Foster CareMaegan: What is your goal as a foster parent?

Shelby: While we had the dream and desire to adopt we also knew that foster care was so much more than a means to adopt. We became foster parents to be a safe place for those who needed it. We not only had a heart to be there for the children but to be a source of encouragement for the parent as well.

Maegan: Fostering is not sustainable lifestyle and it’s important to have a plan before beginning. Does your family have a set of goals you plan to or a specific end date?

Shelby: After being foster parents for over 3 years in West Virginia we packed up and moved to Oklahoma. Right now we are giving our family time to just be. We haven’t lived a life without workers, visits, and the state involved in our parenting since the day we became parents over 4 years ago. After a tumultuous battle for our son we knew this is what we needed. These past 6 months have been medicine to our soul. We still have a strong yearning to be involved in the foster care system and we are confident that one day we will jump back into being foster parents but this break was crucial. So, while we are on this respite we are looking for other ways to be active in advocating for vulnerable children. I’m working on getting certified as a CASA worker and we are hoping to be enrolled in a mentor program at some point. Even during the periods of times that we don’t have foster children in our home, I don’t believe there will ever be a day when we can fully walk away from foster care-we know too much. We have the ability, we see the need, and therefore we have the responsibility.

Maegan: What is the best thing about being a foster parent?

Shelby: The absolute best thing about being a foster parent is seeing our children flourish. I say our because as soon as a child is welcomed into our home-they are ours-even if just for a season. Being able to witness the broken being healed, the fear turn to peace, the dim light shine bright, is such an incredible gift. Being there to nature and help heal the hearts of the one that’s hurting is one of my greatest joys in life.

Maegan: Attachment is one of, if not the biggest, concern most non-foster parents have about becoming a foster parent themselves. What are your thoughts on attachment?

Shelby: Attachment is different for everyone and I can only speak for myself. Love is a choice. And as long as you are choosing to love these children attachment will come. It might be immediate (for both of my forever children it was instant), or it might take time. But making an active decision to love regardless if attachment takes place right away thing or not is the most important thing. And in time-attachment will come.

Unsung Heroes The Doss Family a Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Family FeatureMaegan: Why are you passionate about foster care?

Shelby: I’m passion about foster care because if we as foster parents aren’t then who will be? Our eyes have been open to crisis and we have a responsibility to speak up and out for those who cannot for themselves. I look at the world differently now. When I hear about a child in need the thought is ‘what if that was my child.’ Because, in reality it could be, and to think if I would have missed out or not been there in the time they needed me most of all because of fear or because I wasn’t educated about foster care. I’m so passionate about speaking about foster care because I want people to know two things: their child could be out there-needing them, crying for them, looking for them—regardless if it will be their child for forever or for just a season. That child is out there and they need YOU. James 1:27 is still in my Bible and I plan on living that out. These children deserve better, our future deserves better-and who am I to say ‘leave it for the next person-that’s just not my thing.’ Taking care of each other-that should be everyone’s thing.

Maegan: If you could only use three words to describe the certification process, what would they be? Why those words?

Shelby: Paperwork. Transparency. Preparation.

I would use these 3 words to describe the certification process. Paperwork-not much to say about that. Get ready for your hand to cramp.

Transparency-Be ready to open up and let people into parts of your life you normally wouldn’t. It can be uncomfortable for someone to basically interview you for the position of ‘mama’, but its all worth it. Preparation-Not only did a lot of what we were having to do to be certified prepare us as foster parents but it was preparing our minds and hearts for what was going to happen as well. The paperwork-it never goes away. The transparency was continuing as well–we had to get used to people coming in and out of our house, asking permission for things we normally wouldn’t have even age much thought to, giving an answer for doctor’s visits, formula intake, etc. So more than the classes, the attributes we were perfecting through this time were what were beneficial.

Unsung Heroes The Doss Family a Maegan Johnson Blog Foster Family Feature Foster Care Foster BabiesMaegan: There is a great need for foster parents all across America. Before we go, could you list some of the statistics for your area?

Shelby: In Oklahoma on any given day there are more than 350 children who are waiting for a forever home. That’s 350 children that are literally just waiting for someone to say ‘yes’ to them. There are over 5,000 children in our state in need of a safe place to land and more than 1,000 of those children have a permanent goal of adoption.

Maegan: Shelby, it was such a pleasure to talk with you about foster care! Thank you so much for all the hard work you and Boogie do as foster parents. And thank you for being a shining light to all foster children.

I hoped you enjoyed hearing from Shelby and that you learned something new today. Please leave her some love here in the comments and Instagram–foster parents need lots of encouragement and support! If you personally know Shelby and Boogie I’m asking that you to support them with your hands this week. Call and ask when you can come over and do some laundry and/or wash some dishes or bring them dinner. Don’t call and ask what you can do–call and say your coming over to help or bring a meal. And then pray for them! It takes a community to foster–it takes lots of help. So, show Shelby and Boogie how much you appreciate all they do by lending a helping hand. If you’d like to follow along on the Doss family’s journey you can find them here on Instagram! Have a great week everyone!

Maegan — xx

Unsung Hereos: A Foster Family Feature Series, The Paxson's, Maegan Johnson's Blog, Foster Care, Foster Families, Foster Love

Unsung Heroes: The Paxson’s

Unsung Hereos: A Foster Family Feature Series, The Paxson's, Maegan Johnson's Blog, Foster Care, Foster Families, Foster LoveToday is the first feature in a four week series I am hosting called Unsung Heroes. Each Monday I am featuring a foster mom and her family that has stood out for her devotion, dedication, and advocacy for all foster children. These women and their families are the Robin Hoods, the Dark Nights of our time–average people like you and me daring to change the world. I interviewed each foster mom about the ins and outs of foster care from the most commonly asked questions to the most sensitive. I’m confident that you’ll not only be inspired by each woman but may have some of your own questions answered and possibly leave with a new perspective!

Unsung Hereos: A Foster Family Feature Series, The Paxson's, Maegan Johnson's Blog, Foster Care, Foster Families, Foster LoveOur first feature family is Chelsey and Ty Paxson a sweet couple from Boerne, Texas. They are first time foster parents who decided to start their family through foster care. Chelsey works in investments and her husband Ty is an electrician by day and races his cars in his spare time. They enjoy traveling, finding great new restaurants, rodeos. Chelsey and Ty are first time foster parents to a sweet two month old baby girl who goes by Baby L.

Maegan: Chelsey, I am so honored to have you as my first feature family. Let’s jump right in: What made you and Ty decide foster care was for your family?

Chelsey: My dad was adopted, and my husband’s mom worked for an adoption agency most of his life, so adoption has always been part of our lives. We always say that we are so blessed with wonderful friends and family and wanted to share our blessings with children who might night have been so fortunate. With so many children in need, we wanted to make a difference in one of their lives before we created a new life.

Maegan: Timing is a topic that always comes up in foster care. When did y’all know it was ‘time’?

Chelsey: My husband and I have both had baby fever many times in our marriage, but every time we prayed about starting our family we felt like God shut that door for us and took the desire away. One day we prayed about starting our family through foster care and we felt that he immediately answered our prayers that it was time, so we pushed forward full steam ahead.

Unsung Hereos: A Foster Family Feature Series, The Paxson's, Maegan Johnson's Blog, Foster Care, Foster Families, Foster LoveMaegan: In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge as a foster parent?

Chelsey: Knowing that your heart is going to get broken. We really want to adopt a child so we know that our hearts are going to break if/when the child returns to family, or if we get to adopt the child we know our hearts are going to break for them and their family that the situation didn’t work out for their family to be together. These children deserve for their families to fight for them. If we win and get to adopt, it means someone else has to lose.

Maegan: I have a lot of people ask for advice. What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a foster parent?

Chelsey: Do your research and find the right agency. Even if you have a great support system and resources fostering is difficult, you don’t need to add to the challenges with an agency whose main focus isn’t the children and Jesus.

Maegan: If you could give one piece of advice to a new foster parent what would it be?

Chelsey: Don’t worry about what the world expects of you. You obviously have felt called by the Lord to help these children and lean into Him more than ever.

Unsung Hereos: A Foster Family Feature Series, The Paxson's, Maegan Johnson's Blog, Foster Care, Foster Families, Foster LoveMaegan: What is your goal as a foster parent?

Chelsey: To love these children as Christ loves us. I want them to never doubt the love we have for them and that they have a safe and healthy place to stay.

Maegan: Fostering is not sustainable lifestyle and it’s important to have a plan before beginning. Does your family have a set of goals or a specific end date?

Chelsey: Once we adopt we would probably take a break and focus on trying to have a biological child and raising our family. Once our children are a little older we would like to foster again and help as many children as we can.

Maegan: What in your opinion is the best thing about being a foster parent?

Chelsey: Getting to love on these children.

Maegan: Attachment to a foster child is one of, if not the biggest, concern most non-foster parents have about becoming a foster parent themselves. What are your thoughts on attachment?

Chelsey: Not having someone attach to them is detrimental to these children’s development. Getting attached to them is actually the best thing you can do for them.

Unsung Hereos: A Foster Family Feature Series, The Paxson's, Maegan Johnson's Blog, Foster Care, Foster Families, Foster LoveMaegan: Why are you passionate about foster care?

Chelsey: I sound like a broken record, but these children deserve families.

Maegan: If you could only use three words to describe the certification process, what would they be? Why those words?

Chelsey: Paperwork, Invasive, Worthwhile

  • Paperwork – because there is a ton
  • Invasive – because they get all up in your business
  • Worthwhile – because even though it’s a lot of paperwork and it’s invasive, I would do it over and over again if it meant I got to have this time with Baby L.

Maegan: There is a great need for foster parents all across America. Could you list some of the statistics for your area?

Chelsey:

  • 8 children get removed from their homes every night in San Antonio
  • Almost half of the children in foster care will need to find new forever families
  • 80% of children are removed due to neglect
  • After the age of 6 a child only has a 5% chance of being adopted

Unsung Hereos: A Foster Family Feature Series, The Paxson's, Maegan Johnson's Blog, Foster Care, Foster Families, Foster LoveMaegan: Thank you so Chelsey for letting me interview you today. And thank you so very much for all the hard work you and Ty do as a foster parents. And thank you for being a shining light to all foster children.

I hoped you enjoyed hearing from Chelsey and that you learned something new today. Please leave her some love here in the comments and Instagram— Foster parents need lots of encouragement and support! If you personally know Chelsey and Ty I’m asking that you to support them with your hands this week. Call and ask when you can come over and do some laundry and/or wash some dishes or bring them dinner. Don’t call and ask what you can do–call and say your coming over to help or bring a meal. And then pray for them! It takes a community to foster–it takes lots of help. So, show Ty and Chelsey how much you appreciate all they do by lending a helping hand. Have a great week everyone!

Maegan — xx

Johnson Summer Bucket List

About three summers ago Sam and I started making summer bucket lists and it is one of the best things we ever started doing–besides making a yearly family goal list. It’s a practice that has begun to define our summers! If you’ve never made a summer bucket list I highly encourage you to do so. A summer bucket list can be all the fun things you want to do and it can also be all the goals you have set for yourself. Have you ever made plans in June and looked up in August and you hadn’t accomplished any of them? Me too! I have found that a summer bucket list keeps that from happening–its like fun goal setting. Below is our summer bucket list:

Lay out by the pool

Finish my summer reading list

Kaboom Town Addison Firework Show

An Evening Picnic

Attend a Baseball Game

Finish My Manuscript

An Evening of Stargazing

Make homemade ice cream

Twinning with Sam

Day trip

Try Galaxy doughnuts at Sweet Daze

Cook stir fry

Feed the ducks at the library

Try rolled ice cream

Trip to the Zoo

Finally go record shopping

Take Lemon swimming at the dog park

Visit my parents in Nashville

Vintage shopping

Paint the dining table

Paint and organize the loft

What’s on your summer bucket list? Let me know in the comments below!

Maegan — xx

Summer Reading List for Kids

I remember every summer my mom letting me pick a big fat “big kid” book from our local library and reading it to me every afternoon until we finished it. Those are some of my best childhood memories. Even my brother–who didn’t really enjoy being read to–wanted to sit and listen sometimes.

With summer in full swing your child or children are probably desperate for something to do. Or maybe they are reading through books faster than you can swipe your library card. Either way, you need book suggestions! Guess what, I’ve got a great list for you! The list I’ve compiled is categorized by genre instead of reading level–I leave the reading level decision to you, the parent.

May I also suggest signing your older child up for a Goodreads account. It’s a completely free online community with millions of book suggestions and millions of people passionate about reading. It’s a place to keep track of all the books your reading, write reviews, and get suggestions about what to read next.

Adventure:

Swiss Family Robinson

Little House on the Prairie (Series)-1 from boys perspective

Watership Down

The Odyssey

Wilderness:

Hatchet

Call of the Wild

White Fang

The Last of the Mohicans

Where the Red Ferns Grow

Shiloh

Old Yeller

Irish Red

High Seas:

Robinson Crusoe

Master and Commander (Series) 12+

Treasure Island

The Temeraire (Dragons)

Fantasy/Magic:

The Hobbit

The Lord of the Rings (Series)

The Chronicles of Narnia (Series)

Redwall (Series)

Ralph the Motorcycle Mouse

Indian and the Cupboard

Eragon (Series)

Harry Potter (Series)

Western:

Hank the Cowdog (Series)

Science:

The Magic School Bus (Series)

Science Fiction/Space Opera:

Enders game (Series)

Star Wars (Series)

Strong Female Characters:

Little Women

Anne of Green Gables (Series)

Amelia Bedilia (Series)

Mystery:

Nancy drew (Series)

The Hardy Boys (Series)

Box Car Children (Series)

Equestrian:

Black Beauty

National Velvet

My Friend Flicka (Series)

Misty of Chincoteague (Series)

Bears:

Paddington (Series)

Winnie the Pooh (Series)

 

Happy Reading!

Maegan — xx