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

Mid-century Coastal Nursery/Bedroom Tour

Maegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, Changing table, Dresser as a Chaning table, Nursery Interior Design, Modern Nursery Design, Coastal Nursery Design, Mid century Nursery Design, Blue NEven though Baby E is gone, I am still excited to share our nursery tour today. I jumped so many design and foster care inspection hurdles to get this room ready and not only am I happy with the end result but I’m so grateful to have had a baby to use it. I put a lot of hard work into incorporating a nursery in our bedroom without it feeling juvenile. According to the state I had to fit a crib and changing table in a bedroom that already contained a king size bed, an eight foot dresser, and two night stands. Because we rent I could not change the carpet, ceiling fan, the color of the trim, or doors. I also could not remove or change the blinds. This is a HUGE post so grab a coffee or a glass of wine and settle in. Let’s do this!

BEFORE:IMG_1875Our room was pretty sad looking. The paint in this photo was from the first apartment we ever lived in ten years ago. I am not kidding. It’s a semi-gloss finish(first time paint buyers remorse) and it’s shiny and tacky looking–like patent leather. Just no. Obviously, nothing is working together and it’s very dark and dreary–our lamps don’t even match. Our bedroom needed lots of help.

AFTER:Maegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, Nursery Interior Design, Modern Nursery Design, Coastal Nursery Design, Mid century Nursery Design, Blue NurseryMaegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, Nursery Interior Design, Modern Nursery Design, Changing tableMaegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, Green Jenny Lind Crib, Modern Nursery Design, Coastal Nursery Design, Mid century Nursery Design, Blue NurserySo much better, right?! I wanted our room to tell a story each time I walked in or lay down at night. I was born next to the ocean and it is one of the happiest places on the earth for me. Some of my happiest memories from my entire life are vacationing at the beach with my family. When I lay down at night I wanted to be surrounded and transported to the beach but I did not want it to feel hokey or campy. I wanted it to hint at the beach and leave room for my imagination to fill in the blanks. I also needed a gender neutral theme for the ‘baby’ side of the room and ‘beach’ landed squarely between both baby and grownup. I drew my color pallet from the large art piece hanging over the changing table. It’s just a print but it’s one of the first pieces of art I ever bought and I’m so proud that I still love it to this day.Maegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, Coastal Nursery, Vintage Blue Mason Jar, ShellsI started with paint. We rent and therefore the walls have been repainted a thousand times and are covered with inches of uneven texture. I needed a color that would not accentuate the texture like the tacky, semigloss, dark blue I had painted them. I also had to take into consideration the ugly tan carpet. I wanted to chose a paint color that would draw attention away from the carpet and complement its undertone–not an easy feat. I vacillated over paint color more than any other design aspect. I was very worried that the green undertones of the paint might be nauseating, but this color ended up being so versatile and calming. It leans more blue if you add blue accents and it leans green if you add green accents. It’s one of those truly neutral colors in that it isn’t too warm and isn’t too cool–and it’s not grey. It reminds me of sea foam or misty mornings on the beach. Of all the choices I made this was the most transformative, most dramatic, most effective, and CHEAPEST ‘renovation’ I made to the entire room. The new paint color also helped the ugly carpet disappear. The dark blue color from before exaggerated the carpet but the light blue green draws the eye up and away. Now the carpet I can’t change is more like a accent to the wall–like sand in a sea-glass bottle. Wall color is Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams.Maegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, Reading Noook, Nursery Interior Design, Modern Nursery Design, Coastal Nursery Design, Mid century Nursery Design, Blue NurseryNext I had to figure out where I was going to squeeze a full size crib into our room.  I spent a lot of time digging through Pinterest looking  for ideas on how to incorporate a crib into a master bedroom. Most ideas revolved around picking a corner of the room and letting the baby have that space but that just didn’t work for our room. There were no corners to designate to a baby space because they were almost all taken by windows and doors. I wracked my brain for weeks trying to figure out a good solution. One evening, while Sam and I were sitting on the couch watching TV, I decided to sketch the room out on a piece of notebook paper and draw different layouts. I realized after my first sketch that every room I’d seen the ‘baby in the bedroom’ space designed for was very square with only one or two doors and a single window. Our space is a long rectangle with three doors and two windows. No wonder I was having issues!Maegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, Green Jenny Lind Crib, Book Mobile, Modern Nursery Design, Coastal Nursery Design, Mid century Nursery Design, Blue Nursery I was playing around with my sketch when I got the idea to draw a diagonal line down the room to define the space. The furniture instantly clicked into place. The crib fit snugly against the shorter wall between the closet and bathroom doors with plenty of room for our king sized bed against the opposite wall–though I had to give up my bedside table. I converted our dresser to accommodate the changing pad and slid it against the wall between the windows. The space above the dresser was empty so I designed some shelves and had Sam hang them off center making that wall the focal point of the room. It was the perfect solution. Now there was ample room for the crib and unobstructed paths between the bed and all the doors and windows. The crib is a vintage find I got from a family friend and it has an interesting little story. I got this crib months before Sam and I decided to pursue adoption through foster care. That crib is really special to me because I bought it in faith that I would one day have a baby to put in it. I was so nervous I wouldn’t be able to use it once we began the certification process because whatever crib you use has to pass government codes and the environmental inspection. I was so relieved that we were able to use it! It was already painted the minty pastel green when I got it, and I had planned to paint over it, but after assembling it against the new wall color I left it alone.Maegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, White Washed Shelves, Modern Nursery Design, Coastal Nursery Design, Mid century Nursery Design, Blue NurseryMaegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, Changing table, Dresser as a Chaning table, Nursery Interior Design, Modern Nursery Design, Coastal Nursery Design, Mid century Nursery Design, Blue NThe shelves above the dresser we made out of 2×8 pine from Lowe’s which I hand sanded and whitewashed with Sherwin Williams Extra White paint. I chose to whitewash the shelves because it gave me another texture and design element to play with–a sort of drift wood look. It played to my beach theme and whitewashing made the shelves look visibly lighter. Maegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, Reading Nook and Jenny Lind Crib, Modern Nursery Design, Coastal Nursery Design, Mid century Nursery Design, Blue NurseryI had a little corner leftover with nothing in it and I wanted every part of the space to be usable. There wasn’t enough room for a rocking chair so I decided to make a child sized reading nook. We could have gotten a child up to eighteen months old who really could have used a quiet corner of the house to ‘read’ and use their imagination. Books are so important to me. My own childhood was filled with books and endlessly being read to. I still adore books–I’m an aspiring author–and I really felt a space for books needed to be incorporated into our design. I vacillated over whether to buy picture frame ledges from IKEA or build them myself. It came down to aesthetic, really. I wanted shelves that had texture and natural wood–plus building them cost me nothing. Sam found some plans online(search picture frame DIY for a million options) and we used the left over scrap pine from another project. I sanded them down and stained them with Minwax Classic Gray 271 (left over from staining the headboard) and then white washed them slightly with Sherwin Williams Extra White (which I also had left over from another project). I decided to stain them first because I wanted to add another depth of color and contrast as opposed to the very light shelving above the dresser. I used this tutorial as my guide. Whitewashing is a learning process so I recommend getting a small piece of similar scrap wood and practicing on it before tackling your project.Maegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, Coastal Shelves, White Washed Shelves, , Modern Nursery Design, Coastal Nursery Design, Mid century Nursery Design, Blue NurseryMaegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, White Bedding, Nursery Interior Design, Modern Nursery Design, Coastal Nursery Design, Mid century Nursery Design, Blue NurseryThe headboard is a very heavy piece of paneling from the inside of an old elevator that I refinished and hung with a french cleat. It’s actually the same headboard in the before picture. And, technically Sam added the french cleat. This is one of the projects I’m most proud of because it took a lot of work and planning. I ended up having to start over because of unsavory advise from someone working in a big box lumber store, but it turned out much better than I could have imagined. I already had the white linen duvet cover and I knew I wanted to keep with the white bedding because it is cooler to sleep in(we live in the south y’all) and very spa like. Once I added the faux down duvet insert the bed became very light and airy to look at.Maegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, Nursery Interior Design, Modern Nursey Book Mobile,Let’s talk about the mobile. I made this mobile myself–yes, I really did. I knew I wanted a mobile over the crib but I honestly couldn’t find anything I liked that didn’t scream ‘baby’. I came across the idea on Pinterest(a girl’s best friend) and instantly knew this would be perfect. I love books because they can transport you to other times and places, and you get to experience what it’s like to be a different person. But I also love books because they have messages and those messages can be empowering, edifying, and resiliently hopeful. I wanted a child to be able to look up and see that there is a life just for them that extends far beyond foster care. There is hope. Initially, I wanted to use a Bible–there is no other book filled with more hope– but Sam couldn’t come to terms with me tearing a Bible up this way. I think it would have been beautiful–also very controversial–and I didn’t want ‘controversy’ hanging over our placement’s crib. There is enough literal controversy in a foster child’s life they don’t need metaphorical controversy hanging over their heads too. So, I chose the hardback version of the Chronicle’s of Narnia by C.S. Lewis which I snapped up from a local Half Price Books. The pages hanging from the book’s spine are from ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’. I didn’t have a guide or tutorial I just sort of made it up as I went along and for a first go it turned out beautifully. As I was cutting the pages out of the book’s spine I asked out loud for C.S. Lewis to forgive me for tearing up his work. I also sent a silent prayer asking God to pass the message along in case he was too busy up there in Heaven and didn’t hear me. I added the little wooden stars because it needed a little more length with some fishing line and hot glue. I think once it’s no longer needed as a crib mobile I will remove the stars and hang it in my office.Maegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, White Washed Shelves, Modern Nursery Design, Coastal Nursery Design, Mid century Nursery Design, Blue NurseryInitially, we didn’t have a light on the changing table but after several weeks of blinding each other in the middle of the night with the overhead light I broke off and bought a lamp. The most time consuming part of this entire room was styling the shelves above the dresser. It took months. The top shelf actually came together in like five minutes. It was the bottom shelf that really gave me a headache. The vintage glass mason jar–which is filled with shells and sand-dollars from Sam’s very first trip to the beach and our first trip as a married couple–was the only object that actually made it to the end of all the edits I made. Maegan Johnson NurseryBedroom Tour, Nursery Interior Design, Modern Nursery Design, Coastal Nursery Design

There is still a lot left to be done to the adult side of the room. I’m still looking for the right art to hang above the bed as well as a bedside table that better matches the aesthetic of the space. And there is still the dilemma of what to hang on the long wall against the bathroom door. The bedding could also use some color and updating. But that’s the joy of design your own space–in my opinion–because you get to decide as you go along and what ultimately ends up in your space is curated to be 100% you. Thank y’all so much for coming over for a tour. It really means the world to me that y’all have followed our journey as foster parents. You’re continued interest and support means the world to me.

Furniture: Crib/Vintage, Dresser/Cason’s Mercantile, Headboard/DIY

Decor: Changing Table Lamp/Target, Bedside Lamp/Target, Wall Art/ Etsy, Crib Art/Hobby Lobby, Crib Mirror/Vintage Find, Sea Urchin Spines/Target, Changing Table Tray/Hobby Lobby, Coral Art/Target, Book Shelf Art/Urban Outfitters, Oval Frame/Hobby Lobby, Indigo Art/Jennifer Parry Dodge, Wooden Ship/Michael’s, Cream Vase/Target, White Basket/Target, Grass Basket/Target/ Changing Pad Cover/Buy Buy Baby, Crib Sheet/Target, Green Squirrel/Anthropologie

If I forgot something please let me know!   XX — Maegan

Baby E Final Update

As most of you have probably noticed I have been absent from social media for the past two weeks. There was a lot going on with Baby E’s case so I intentionally stepped away from social media to focus on what was most important. I am back today to announce that Baby E has officially left us. I cannot go into detail about her case, and as with most things in foster care there are still a lot of unknowns, and as such we do not know if she will be returning to our care.

Sam and I are so blessed to have been Baby E’s foster parents. Of course we were very sad to see her go but we are confident that we gave her the best start we possibly could and are confident in God and His plan for Baby E. We are proud of the people that this experience has shaped us into and blessed beyond measure to have fostered a child in need.

We will be taking a few months off to rest and rejuvenate and spend time together as a family.

We want to thank each and every one of you who have diligently and fervently prayed for Baby E, Sam, and I throughout this entire journey. We have felt your prayers in a powerful way and cannot express out heartfelt and sincere gratitude enough. Thank you so much for all the love and support we have received from each and every one of you.

Maegan and Sam

The Dreaded Home Study: It’s Nothing to Dread

acs_0175We had a wonderful home study experience. It was intense and our interviewer did ask many probing questions. But it wasn’t scary. The interviewer was never inappropriate and he never made any ugly remarks.

Exactly why does everyone dread the home study and why does is have such a negative connotation? What exactly is so horrific that the word ‘home study’ is whispered in hushed tones like the name Voldemort?

I think the general population has the expectation that a home study is to have their private life and home broken into and swarmed like a SWAT team on a drug bust. Glass breaking, wood splintering they kick down the front door and crash through the windows with automatic rifles flashing, screaming for everyone to get down on the ground–GET DOWN ON THE GROUND AND PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR HEAD–as they shoot the family dog.  This is what people imagine about a home study because it is the kind of experience that has been described to them. There is a lot of bad and untrue information about foster care–especially the home study. It has to be one of the top three that gets lied about and/or blown out of proportion within the topic of foster care. Please always consider the merit of the person who is regaling you with stories or information about foster care–that includes me.

Most people– including myself before we became certified–know absolutely nothing about foster care or what the certification process looks like. When you are ignorant about a subject then you are completely vulnerable to misinformation. That’s how rumors and nonfactual information root themselves in the populous. When you get educated on a topic you can spot misinformation a mile a way. If you want an education on foster care, seek out several foster care agencies and attend their orientations. While you’re there ask the people who have careers in foster care what a home study is like. Never rely on just mine or anyone else’s second hand information. Always go straight to a credible source for credible information.

What most people are unaware of is that months prior to the actual home study everything you’ve ever done wrong; your darkest secret; the past you’ve only shared with your spouse or close family; all of it has already been written down and divulged to your agency. Remember all that paperwork you have to fill out–yeah, all that stuff about your past is part of it. There is almost nothing that your home study interviewer asks you or talks to you about that you haven’t already answered in your paperwork packet questionnaire or written in your autobiography. You will have already submitted your budget, bank statement, taxes, medical records, FBI background checks, autobiographies, house rules, job history, marriages, children, rabbies vaccination records for your pets, baby sitters, and the four different people who you asked to be your references(who submitted their own stack of paperwork of questions all about you asking very personal, honest and harsh questions about your integrity, your social standings, your finances, your personality, etc), you’ve submitted pictures of every room in your house, pictures of yourself, and your pets, and children. They have background checks on your cleaning lady and yard person and your nanny and babysitter(nannies have to complete a certain amount of foster care training in order to remain your nanny). They’ve already requested a lot of personal information from you. They already know EVERYTHING. There is almost NOTHING that the government doesn’t know about you by the time you have that home study. You have willingly made your life an open book and your home study interviewer has already read your ENTIRE file before they ever come to your house.

If you have been honest and upfront on all your paperwork you have nothing to hide or be afraid of at your home study. A home study is another way for the state and your agency to get to know you and all the members of your family–to better assess everyone. It’s the same reason companies have phone and then in-person interviews with job applicants. The in-person meeting helps to complete the already extensive picture that has been painted for them. That’s one of the big reasons why they have home studies.

So, there is no reason, NO reason to be afraid of a home study. None. And if that’s the one thing keeping you from pursuing foster care or adoption through foster care you have no more excuses. If you have nothing to hide then there is nothing to fear. It’s just part of the process to ensure the safety of the already abused children coming into foster care.

This foster care thing isn’t about you. And if you stop and think about this whole process from the perspective of what is best for the child then this process will stop looking like a governmental SWAT raid and more like good people trying their best to ensure that they are taking the very very best initiative to protect children coming into foster care. Wouldn’t you do the same if the roles where reversed?

Maegan

 

 

FROM ORIENTATION TO LICENSING—THE COMPLETE STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO BECOMING A FOSTER PARENT

Baby E Update

We are now a little over three months into fostering Baby E and, though I have not posted any updates lately, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes. Sometimes, I get so frustrated because there is so much going on that I believe is really worth sharing but I can’t because it is not my right to share. I believe the longer we foster the better I will be at sharing without breaking the rules. Y’all should know that there is always a lot going on that I can’t share and if it gets a little quiet on the ‘update front’ there is a high likelihood that there is a lot going on I can’t talk about.

For example, February was nuts–it was not a great month. There was a lot going on with the foster care side of our lives that was not positive and unfortunately none of it is shareable. I can say that Sam and I learned a lot of valuable lessons and appreciate our foster care agency more than ever. I’ve talked before about how important it is to foster with an agency and I cannot emphasize the importance of that enough. If we did not have such an amazing agency I don’t know if we would have survived February. I think my takeaway from February could be summed up in the words ‘appropriate communication’. Once the appropriate communication started flowing things got much much better.

On the personal side of things, I had to have a cracked molar pulled in February and that was miserable and complicated. I hate the dentist(as most people do) and it was just the worst timing for it to fall in the middle of everything that was going on. The infection was starting to spread down into my neck and ear so we had to bump up the extraction date and it just so happened that Sam was supposed to go out of town that same day for work. I was freaking out because I wasn’t sure how I was going to have my tooth pulled and take care of an infant at the same time. I was freaking out. But Sam has such an amazing and flexible job (and boss) who allowed him to move his out of town trip to the next week and he stayed home with me. It was a good thing too because they ended up having to give me laughing gas and I was so out of it afterwards. There was no way I could have driven home. I was glad to see February go. March was a much much better month. A lot of the foster care things got smoothed out and both sides of our family came to visit. It was a relief to have family here.

One of the things I am most proud of Sam and I for is our willingness to take on the responsibility of foster care despite both our families living far away. That is probably one of the most taxing parts of foster care for us. When we need a sitter, we have to have a certified sitter and all but one of our certified sitters(family) don’t live nearby. So Sam and I had not really been able to take a break until our families got to town. We got to go on our first date since baby E! And just having someone else to hold and bounce the baby so we could take a break or wash some clothes was much needed relief. I’d say that this is another lesson we have learned on this journey–have at least four babysitters certified and scheduled before you get certified. Seriously. By the end of February Sam and I were both exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When our families came to visit it was like taking a swim in a cool spring–refreshing and renewing. I also learned that I have to reach out to people and tell them I need help. In the middle of February I started reaching out to friends asking if they would become certified sitters for us because we were drowning. By the end of April I think we will have several babysitters certified! I’m so very grateful for all our friend who are pitching in to help us out. SO So much.At the beginning of April we found out there will not be another hearing until the middle of the summer. That means we will definitely have Baby E until then. We are loving her, and really enjoying being her foster parents. As I have said before, I don’t know how this will turn out for her or us but I do still believe that God has a plan. We pray everyday for God’s will for her life. Our plan is just to enjoy all the time we have with her and take it one day at a time like we always have. Foster care is a waiting game and while we wait we have fun plans ahead! Sam and I have so many fun activities planned for E in the upcoming months!

Baby E is doing really great and I’m so proud of her! She has made HUGE progress with the OT and just the other day she rolled over for the first time! I am so proud of her! She might have been a bit behind but she is really making strides and catching up developmentally. She has also turned into a really bubbly and vivacious baby! She really really craves social interaction and has started a lot of ‘play’ behavior. She is definitely relationship motivated. She is starting to have interest in Lemon now and watches her every chance she gets. She is sleeping really well–almost through the night now–and Sam and I could not be more grateful. Conversely, she is staying awake more and more during the day. She still has a really gentle and easy disposition and she smiles all the time now. E has already started identifying Sam and I as her parents. We weren’t sure when that would happen. All babies are different and some don’t form that attachment until much later on. She still struggles after every visitation–though she does better now than in the beginning–and now when she comes home she wont look at me for several hours because she is mad at me. I try so hard not to take that personally. I put myself in her shoes and I can see that I would be mad too. Even at three months she is so aware of what is going on. It is so surprising to see how much she understands and that she is trying to regain some control over her world. I can only imagine how confusing it must be for her. I have said it before and I will say it again; no matter how young a child is visitation is still hard for every child.Aside from visitation day, she is a happy baby! We live a normal life six days a week–Sam and I make sure of it. I take so many pictures of her and us together. Right now she is definitely going through a growth spurt and she is growing like a weed right in front of my eyes! I wake up and something about her changes every day. I honestly don’t know how she is growing up so fast or where the last three months went. I am excited to see her growing though–that is a really great sign that she is going to be a healthy, happy, little girl. We only want the very best for her even if that means she wont stay a sweet snuggly baby forever.

We appreciate every single one of you who read our posts, and pray for us, and invest time in our lives. We feel your love and prayers. We are so grateful to have such an amazing support group like you!

Maegan

Westbrook Family Visit

My parents came to visit last weekend and it was heavenly! I haven’t seen them in months and months and I was so glad they were finally able to meet “E”–as my mom calls her. We had the best time and they fell in love with Baby E! They brought her a chocolate Easter bunny that was almost as big as her, clothes, and the cutest little books! It was just a perfect visit! E recognized my mom’s voice as soon as they arrived!–she Facetimes with E and I quite a bit! That was so special to me that she recognized my mom’s voice. My heart was so full for E because she has been touched and handled by so many people for her whole life that it is really important that she has people she can anchor to besides myself and Sam. Like every child, she needs to know she has family who loves her and who she can recognize–even though, for now, we are her foster family. It is always such a range of emotions for me when E meets a family member for the first time. I’m excited for her to meet them but, at the same time, I worry it will be overwhelming for her and cause her to have a meltdown after they leave. I want her to know she has so many people who love her outside her foster care experience but I also want her to not be inundated with new people. Thankfully with both sides of our family she has been so comfortable! She laughs and plays and loves being with our families–and she has never had a meltdown during or after.On Saturday the weather was beautiful! We sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather by the pool, ate some Fuzzy’s Tacos, bounced the Baby and generally had the greatest time. Baby E loves being outside and I am so so happy because as the weather gets warmer we will definitely be spending more and more time out of doors! For me, the experience as a daughter and mother was really special because I get to see my foster child bond with my parents and my parents with her. This is my parents first grandchild too and that made it even more special. It is such an interesting experience to watch my parents from the perspective of parent and child. I understand now how important it is to have children because the experience makes you a more rounded person. It grows and matures you and your perspective on life in its entirety changes, and in a lot of ways becomes more realistic. A lot of things I believed were so important before we began fostering are not important as I believed them to be–and some of those things no longer matter at all.My Pop(my mom’s dad) also got to meet Baby E for the first time too! It was so sweet to see her so comfortable with him. Pop was all about her. It was adorable. Also, isn’t the family resemblance in the photo above striking? The Walker genes run strong! I took so many more pictures than I’m showing here but most of them have E’s face so I can’t show those. Boo! But seriously, it was so good to see my parents and for them to spend time with E. They are so attached to her that I think it will be just as hard on them if she is returned to her bio parent as it will be on us. I hope they get to visit again soon!

I am so proud of our families for embracing this sweet child like she was Sam and I’s biological child. So. Proud. So, so, proud. Not every foster family can boast that and I don’t take it for granted. She really does have two big families who love her so much. I don’t know many foster parents who can boast that! We are truly blessed!

Maegan

Johnson Family Visit

Extended family is hard to come by around here. Both side’s of our family live far away and have not been able to visit much since Baby E was placed with us. So it was a real treat to have Sam’s side of the family here for a visit two weeks ago. We were so so glad to see them! Sam’s brother and his wife were even able to be here and we had not seen them for almost two years! Having family visit with a baby is different–but in a good way. No one expects your house to be clean and no one expects you to entertain. And let’s be real–they all really came to see the baby anyway so no one is looking at my dirty floors that haven’t been mopped in several months. I’m into full disclosure around here.We had such a good time. It was nice to have eager helpers who were more than happy to bounce the baby, and feed the baby, and change the baby, and hold the baby. Everyone even pitched in to fold laundry–queue the Hallelujah Chorus! In the hustle and bustle of my two new jobs( parenting and foster care) I hadn’t realized I really needed a break or how much I really needed to see family. It was really great to sit around and chit-chat and just relax.

It was also nice to be able to step away from Baby E even just for a minute and goof off with Sean and Liana and just be normal adults. We made a quick Walmart run for–what else–diapers, and even though that’s a really simple thing we had a great time. Also, what is up with the new Lay’s potato chip bags. I mean, it’s brilliant marketing but it’s also kind creepy. We almost bought a bag of chips. Seriously.On Thursday we took Baby E on her very first Zoo trip! Sam has been DYING to take her to the Zoo ever since she arrived. She stayed in her stroller most of the time and slept but it was great to get outside and it was the perfect weather. It wasn’t too warm and there was a nice breeze but nothing too crazy. It was perfect! And we all had a really good timeI’m trying so hard to remember to take pictures when we are out doing fun things but it is so hard to remember sometimes! I’m dong better about taking pictures and now I’m trying to incorporate more video. This week I plan on getting my big mama camera out and start using it. I need a good camera strap–a cute one–so if anyone has a suggestion will ya leave it in the comments below? Thanks!

It is killing me not to be able to post full pictures of Baby E. We took so many good pictures with Papa Randy and MeMaw and Papa Baker(great grandparents), and then with Uncle Sean and Aunt Liana. I wish I could show them all! Maybe oneday  . . . I’m trying to share her as best I can while still complying. But it is SO HARD!!! There were so many good pictures y’all!On Friday night Sam and I got to go out on our first date since Baby E!!! We had the best time! We planned on dinner and a movie but it turned into a movie and fro-yo. It was a good trade off. We ended up seeing The Greatest Showman and it was so flippin’ good! We jammed out to the soundtrack all the way home–one of the few perks of technology–and I’m still loving the soundtrack weeks later. ‘This is Me’ is such a good anthem song, ya know? There was a shopping center near the theater and that’s where we took these photos. They are grainy and a little dark but I love these photos because they are so “us”. For once, I kept it simple and just wore a bold lip, a comfy shirt dress, and (gasp!) comfortable shoes. It was good to get away together for a few hours.It was a really great visit and Sam and I are so thankful for our family. We really are. Parenthood can be so demanding and with foster care added to the mix life can seem completely impossible. It was such a great relief to have family here because we got to forget about foster care for a few days and just be a family. Ya know? It was good just to be. We were sad to see them go! Johnson weekend visit was a super success and we look forward to seeing everyone soon.

Maegan