Well, yesterday marked 7 months.  7 months since we left Wisconsin.  7 months in Florida.  7 months of going through every emotion and feeling possible.  7 months of everything new and different.  7 months of questions and doubts.  7 months that haven’t been awesome and perfect, but also, 7 months that have been filled with laughter and growth.  I didn’t send out Christmas cards for the 2nd year in a row so I thought I would share a few of my favorite pictures from our Christmas Card photo shoot.  It’s funny…the kids have gone from hating taking pictures to asking me when we are going to do them.  We have gone from crying and meltdowns when taking family pictures to a lot of giggling and silliness.  Somehow I did manage to capture a bunch of pictures that I absolutely love and adore.  The candid ones of the crazy kids goofing around happen to be my favorite ones.  They show personality and character, all of which each of my children have a lot of.  So since I just wasn’t “feeling” the whole Christmas card thing this year, no cards were sent.  Consider this your card from our family!

 

I know it has been a while since I have updated and I have started many blogs that I have deleted and never posted.  It has been a weird couple of months.  Life has obviously been different since our addition of J & J (our foster girls).  They have been with us 3 months and while I have SO many things that I want to share with you and tell you, it isn’t my story to tell.  What I can tell you is that it is hard and confusing.  We have good days and we have not so good days.  These little girls love and adore their mamma and while she is desperately missing them, we are caring for them until they can be reunited with her.  The one thing I can talk about is how our kids are doing.  Taking in children is a sacrifice for all of us and we knew that going into foster care.  This means that each and every one of our kids have had to learn to put someone other than themselves or siblings first.  We can’t always do what we might normally be able to do.  We can’t always go where we might normally be able to go.  The older ones have to babysit sometimes and even help change a pull-up every now and then.  Lanie is their best friend.  They get upset if they can’t say good-night to her and they simply adore her.  Gavin loves to play with them and they like to pretend beat up on him.  All of our children have resorted to calling us Mama Sue and Daddy Dan now which makes me smile as we were just joking in the beginning about the names when we were trying to figure out what to have J & J call us.  We know we aren’t their Mommy or Daddy and so we knew we didn’t want to take that name but I love that we are now known as Mama Sue and Daddy Dan!  The girls love the beach and call any water we see “the beach.”  We aren’t sure how long we will have them or what the future holds, but hopefully one day I can share more about our experience.  From the beginning my heart has ached for their mama and I have such a deep empathy for her as she lives every day without her little girls.

God has warmed our hearts with some special friends and visitors in December which helped make us just a little less homesick.  Of course both families got a day at Disney with some of us as we love to give guided tours in our “2nd home.” It really feels weird to see people that we love and it seems like everything is right and normal…and then they always load back into a car or get on a plane no matter how much we beg and plead for them to move down here with us.  We are excited to be heading back “home” to WI in a few weeks for a 3 day weekend with ALL the kids.  This will be the first time back for some of the kids and they are beyond excited.  Thank you Frontier for $25 tickets!  I am not sure if this is a good or a bad idea.  Will it make it harder to come back to our Florida home and will we long for our last chapter we had before we moved?  Or…will we be grateful for the time we have and be excited to leave the snow and cold and come back to beautiful 70 degree days with the sun shining and trips to the beach and Disney?  I’ll have to let you know!

The other day I was having a little bit of a pity party.  We went through 2 1/2 weeks of Christmas Vacation and at times it felt so lonely.  The friendships we are starting to develop are just in the beginning phases of people trying to figure out who we are and why we have 9 kids.  I have made a couple of good friends which helps me as I am a bit more social than Dan.  He is good to sit at home and just “be.”  I am used to always being on the move and planning and preparing for something, so this break felt weird and different.  Our kids are still trying to figure out where they fit in…or if they even do.  As I was having my pity party it hit me…hello Susan…we have 9 children right now.  As I sat there and tried to figure out why the invitations aren’t  flowing in to have us over I realized that everyone else has a story as well.  I also am grateful for this season that we are in at the same time.  God has given me exactly who I need in my life right now…a few solid people that I can laugh with and cry with.  People who share my passion for Disney…and some who don’t ever have the desire to go to a Disney park with me.  (I will still keep trying).   I also have all my people back in WI that I try to call and text whenever I can.  I think I am just in an awkward growth time filled with change and new opportunities.  For someone who isn’t the biggest fan of change…these 7 months have been nothing but change.

I have so much more I want to say, but I feel like I am rambling on and on and I have to go back to work in the morning so I will end with a few pictures of the good here in Florida!

~We rode the highest sky swing thing ever.  I kept my eyes closed the entire time.  I am too old for this.

~I saw the brightest and biggest rainbow that I have ever seen in my life….above Target of all places.  😉

~We spent 2 days at Hollywood Studios so we could ride the new Star Wars ride.  From what began as one bad day we gained a second awesome day there.

~Griffin turned 8.  My baby turned 8.  I guess I should lose the baby weight now, right?

I had no idea what to expect when packing up to move across the country.  I had imagined things going differently, in some good ways and in some bad ways.  You can’t really plan what life in a new state will look like and for my head that likes to have a plan and a purpose there hasn’t been much of a plan and I’m still trying to figure out my purpose.  I know that one day I will look back and it will all make sense and my prayer is that each of our children will be able to do the same.

For now, Happy New Year!  I will commit to share the good and the bad of this journey and covet your prayers and your Florida visits!!