After having had the kids here for a few weeks now, we’re noticing things, quirks, personality traits, etc, that naturally do not show up during a day or two of exposure.

We have, since the first time that ‘N” came to visit, been concerned about his ability to communicate at the level of a three year old as well as his lack of coordination. The first time he spent the night was while I was on one of my trips. Jessica texted me a few times to tell me that all ‘N’ can do is grunt like a cave man and point. While both of our biological children were early adopters of their communication skills, we still thought that ‘N’ was a bit behind developmentally. We weren’t (and still are not) sure if this was a result of neglect or because of some learning issues.

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Since this crazy adventure started, we’ve had several people pitch in to help. While it really isn’t necessary, I cannot tell you how much we’ve appreciated all of it. From having people offer their time to help out to actually sending items we can use to just plain sending cash and gift certificates, it is definitely a reminder that we’re all in this together and it makes the experience so much richer when others get involved.

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The Weekend, Lemons, & Lemonade

I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day and he brought up a point that I have often given thought to: for parents the real work begins on the weekend.

For parents who work full-time jobs, you probably know what is meant by this. Not that the Monday thru Friday grind is not work but there really is more of a routine to it. Get up, get the kids dressed and ready for school or wherever they need to go, and then get to work. I know . . . I’ve talked about routine enough, so I won’t dwell on it. I don’t know that I completely agree with the statement, but I definitely get the sentiment. Weekends bring a lot more unpredictability than weekdays do. Sometimes they turn out great and sometimes, well, they go the other way.

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65 Minutes of Chaos, The Little Things & A Cup of Coffee

65 Minutes of Chaos

How the morning goes in my head (the night before):

5:30: Wake up before everyone else. Check my email. Answer a question or two in Customer Support.
6:00: Take shower
6:30: Walk the big dog while Jessica is up, walking the little dog, then downstairs making lunches and breakfast
7:00: Wake the kids
7:20: Have them dressed and downstairs for breakfast
7:35: Have them out the door with Jessica for school
7:40: Have kitchen cleaned from breakfast
7:45: Have ‘A2’ on my lap drinking his bottle
8:00: Jessica back from dropping kids off
8:05: I am at my desk working

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Totally Worth It

I know I’ve mentioned that there are so many stories out there similar to that of ours and the three boys. Last night I came home to an email from someone whom I’ve known for a while and have had the greatest respect for. She is one of THE nicest people you’ll ever meet. She has no idea how much her email inspired and encouraged me. I shared it with Jessica, who’s experience growing up was very similar and she expressed the same sentiment as me.

I am posting the email with permission:

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Home At Last: Happiness and Community

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I have a great time on my business trips. I am lucky (as in EXTREMELY lucky) to love what I do and that I get to do it within a community that I care deeply about. It’s a community that truly believes that when we all do well, WE ALL DO WELL; meaning that while there are competitors, you never really feel as though you’re competing against anyone other than yourself. The amount of time and help people give willingly within this community, with no expectation of reciprocity makes it about the most stress-free professional/working experience I’ve ever encountered.

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My Weekend Away In Pictures

One of the things that I am always grateful for, when I am gone, is that Jessica will make it a point to post lots of updates and photos of things going on around the house with the kids to help me feel like I’m a bit a part of things. Naturally, it just makes me miss them more, but they always always ALWAYS bring a smile to my face and cheer me up (not that I’m in a bad mood to begin with, but you know what I mean).

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My Wife & Foster Care

Yesterday was my first night away from the house since we’ve taken on the three boys. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am not worried at all about Jessica’s ability to handle it. She’s great with the kids and knows just how to handle almost any situation. While she likes things a certain way, she’s very adept at improvising and changing the plan to suit the need.

Since we started this, I’ve been given a lot of compliments. Things like, “you’re doing a great thing”, “you’re awesome”, “you’re crazy (but in a good way)”, etc. And while any or all of the above are debatable, I am not sure that the proper credit is being given where it’s due, here. And that’s why I feel the need to write about Jessica.

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Five Against One & Broken Promises

So, I’ve now left for my first trip since the kids have joined the fold and it’s just Jessica dealing with them for the weekend. I have zero doubt about her ability to handle it, but I feel bad for leaving her to do it alone.

The week has had its share of up and down dramatics. ‘A’ and Eli are quite competitive and are constantly trying to one-up each other. This almost always ultimately ends up in hurt feelings; and not just typically one, but for both. I do think that in the last 48 hours we have made some progress with that, but it’s something that will take time and it’s a pretty big pain point for us as parents.

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It’s Only “Mostly” Dead

I think it’s safe to say that we’re finally starting to get into a rhythm around here. There are still a couple of things that need to be ironed out (for instance, I was downstairs ALL night with the baby so Jessica could get a full night of sleep. For the record, leather sofas make better things to sit in than sleep in), but overall things are going smoothly.

On bath nights, we have dinner and then the bath-time routine begins. Jessica runs the water for Brenna’s bath, Eli then takes a shower, Jessica then runs a bath for ‘N’ and then ‘A’ takes a shower. All in all, it’s going well enough that we have the kids pretty much wrapped up and ready for bed by 8:00.

After hugs, kisses, and “goodnights” all around, I go and chat with the three older kids (topic of conversation always starts with talking about what was good about their day), while Jessica sits with ‘N’ until he is ready to fall asleep. ‘N’ is doing much better sleeping through the night (at first he’d wake up several times throughout and we’d have to tell him to go back to sleep), but getting there is still taking some work. I then take the baby downstairs and if he is ready to go to sleep, lay him down and go walk Barcelona. If he’s not ready to sleep, I wait for Jessica to come downstairs and then walk her.

Generally the time of night that I get up and to bed varies because we have not quite figured out the best routine for ‘A2’ yet. Jessica will typically go to bed between 9:30 and 10:00 and I will typically stay up until ‘A2’ wakes up, anywhere between 10:30 and midnight. The problem with this routine is that sometimes he’ll wake up, feed, get his diaper changed and then go right back to sleep and other times he’ll be up until 2:30 or so. And if I take him upstairs while he’s sleeping during that 8:00 to 10:30 window, he will wake up at around 2:00 and then be up until 4:00 or 5:00.

We did recently conclude, however, that if we let him cry for about five minutes, he generally goes to sleep. This is totally different behavior than what we got out of Eli and Brenna, who not only have a set of lungs, but had no problem using them until the cows came home. Believe me, that first night of a house full of cows made us rethink our strategies with them.

Mornings are running quite smoothly. We’re finding that getting four kids ready for school is not that much more difficult than it was to get two. Brenna is still a pain to wake up in the morning, but the others get up and the two olders are able to handle things themselves. ‘N’ just needs the attention and once in a while, Brenna still needs help with things like deciding what to wear and getting dressed (girls clothing is so much trickier than boys, that’s for sure).

By 7:30 the kids are downstairs, have had their breakfast and are ready to leave. Our goal is always for Jessica to get out the door with the kids no later than 7:40. We generally hit that goal.

Because it’s a pretty significant car load, Jessica has been using the Armada to take the kids to school, but the problem is that it does not get driven much and school is only about a mile or so away. This means that, if we’re not careful, the battery does not get fully charged and after a few days, especially when things get colder, it won’t turn over.

Because the Armada gets parked out front until the new garage is built, and the battery charger is in the garage in the back, when this happens, I have to pull the battery and take it to the garage. Believe it or not, it’s actually easier than running a cord to the car. So, that’s what I got to do this morning. Jessica had to cram all the kids into the Leaf (sans baby), and still, somehow, they all managed to get to school on time.

Eventually we’ll get the routine down. And, also, eventually, we’ll remember to run the Armada long enough to keep the battery charged.

*** Just figured out that the reason for the dead battery was because someone turned on all four of the interior lights.

Also learned today that when the garage breaker blows and the little car is parked, it is impossible to get in. Guess we should invest in an opener with a battery backup… it’d probably be dead, too, when we need it. ***