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Hi, Remember Me?

This is the post where I write a long-overdue update on my life and its happenings and try to explain why I basically dropped off the blogging planet. You know the drill.

So wow. It’s been more than six months and a ridiculous amount of things have happened. I’ll try to go in chronological order, for simplicity but also drama.

Foster Placement #3:

Party of 7 After our emotional ending to Firefly’s placement with us, we took a brief break before our foster agency approached us about a short-term placement of three little girls who were on the fast track to reunification. By all accounts, this would be a quick placement — their mama was working her plan, the girls were ready to return home, and we would get to play a part in a successful reunification, something we’ve wanted to do, as we feel strongly that children belong with their natural families whenever it is safe and appropriate.

So we said yes.

At the end of February, three beautiful little ladies moved into our home:  M (15 months), A (2.5), and K (5)! We got them all enrolled in full-time daycare (for M and A) and preschool (K, at the school where I worked and the boys attended) and settled into life as a family of 7…as much as you can settle into that when your family expands rapidly! The girls were precious, sweet little babies and the boys were elated with having little sisters, especially the baby! They loved doing anything it took to get her to giggle. One thing we didn’t expect was how dependent the girls would be on us to entertain them. Presumably from their home of origin, they had not been taught to play independently, so that was a challenge. They came with a truckload of toys, but they would play with none of them. And the baby was hell on wheels when allowed to roam freely – we quickly borrowed a Pack ‘n Play from a friend and taught her how to enjoy herself with toys in her own space.

What happened next with the placement comes after a few other developments…

Expecting Again!

Around the time we were saying goodbye to Firefly, my husband and I had many conversations about “starting over” with a new baby. Honestly, we thought we were done with newborns and diapers, but as we discovered with baby M, it wasn’t the end of the world to go back to diapering. I had nearly given up dropping hints to Brandon about another baby when he out of the blue said “You know what? Let’s do this.” I mean we discussed it a little more than that, but over the course of about 2-3 months, we decided to go for it!

So we did!

Spoiler By the end of March, we had a little secret to keep from the world for a few weeks! As expected, with 5 kids already at home, I didn’t have much time to dwell on this major life-changing thing nor did I get much sympathy for my exhaustion and morning sickness. And boy was it bad this time around!

Around 9.5 weeks, I had some bleeding and cramping, which caused my first OB appointment to be something other than the joyful confirmation I expected. A rude nurse and a no-nonsense midwife instructed me to pee in a cup (“Yep, you’re knocked up.” “No kidding.”) and then head down to the lab for blood work. We were told that it didn’t look promising, but come back for more blood work in 2 days to make sure those HCG levels are going up as they should.

We spent that weekend praying for our little babe in the making but understanding that a miscarriage was indeed likely. We made the decision to tell the boys about the pregnancy but also tell them that it was possible that something could be wrong with the baby and what that would mean. We felt they could handle this information and that it was important to share with them in this whole process. At this point we had only told our parents and best friends.

On Monday, we got the news from the OB practice that my HCG levels had indeed dropped and scheduled an appointment for the next day to discuss our “options.” Options. That’s a word that sounds nice in theory – “Look at all the ways this could go! There are so many outcomes!” – but really when you hear it in this context, your mind knows that the options you have are limited at best, heartbreaking at worst.

I spent Monday evening in tears, curled up in a ball on our bed. We wanted this baby to live and be healthy. Sure, we are realists. We understand how biology works and how many things can cause fetal demise in early pregnancy. But this was our baby!

Tuesday morning of the appointment, Brandon went with me and tried to calm my nerves by cracking jokes, which was extremely helpful. We were greeted by the same nurse who was rude to me the previous week for the preliminaries and then the same midwife came in to review the options. I had been advised by friends to take the more invasive, but quicker option, as it would allow me to heal physically and emotionally, since I had a job and 5 kids to tend to. In a bit of a fog, we determined that the surgery would be our preferred option, so the midwife said she would have the scheduler call me to set up the appointment.

“…Are you going to do an ultrasound, just to make sure I’ve miscarried?”

It seems like a pretty simple question, but apparently it was a surprising one to the midwife. “Well, we have your lab results, plus last week’s ultrasound. That all indicates that the pregnancy is terminating.”

“…You haven’t done an ultrasound. I don’t know whose uterus you’re looking at, but it’s not mine!” She quickly went out to her desk and verified this (I definitely rolled my eyes as she left the room.), then ushered us down the hall to the ultrasound room. “I know it’s probably a miscarriage happening, but it seems pretty important to check and make sure,” I said as we walked down the hallway.

In what felt like hours but must have been only minutes, we waited for the image to appear on screen. I told myself I shouldn’t look, that it would be too tragic, but as soon as a familiar-looking black and white blob appeared on the TV monitor out of the corner of my eye, I couldn’t look away. It was moving! Wiggling around! The ultrasound technician flipped a switch and we heard the most wonderful sound of our little babe’s heartbeat!

Brandon says he started crying then because he assumed this meant that even though our baby looked perfect to us, something was still terribly wrong with the pregnancy and the surgery would still go on as scheduled. He was quickly reassured by the technician – “Your baby looks perfect!” “Everything is fine!” “There is nothing wrong with your baby or this pregnancy.”

WOW.

To me, this was just confirmation of what I knew in my heart. My baby WAS fine. My baby IS fine.

The next hour or so was a blur. The (rude) nurse led us back into the exam room as she looked at the notes in the file. She stared at the file for a few moments, then looked up and said “…I thought they said you had a miscarriage!” “…Surprise?” 🙂 Our midwife then again confirmed that she had no concerns about the baby or pregnancy. She couldn’t explain the HCG readings. She said “I’ve never seen anyone’s levels drop that low and have an ultrasound that perfect.” She did prescribe a progesterone supplement for the rest of the first trimester because mine was borderline-low, but ended with a congratulations and an order for an appointment in 4 weeks.

Happy phone calls were made. Doughnuts were purchased and consumed. We told the boys the happy news but told them they had to wait just a few more days to share it with other people. We had a surprise announcement to make on Mother’s Day, which looked like this:

Surprise!

Coming up in Part 2 of my update:  Big Changes, Gender Reveal, and Celebrations

Another Goodbye

This week I removed the leaf insert from our dining room table to take the seating configuration from six down to four. An outside observer might think that we had hosted family gatherings over the holidays and were a tad belated in returning our table to its normal state. But someone closer to our family might realize that this simple act took a great deal of strength and resulted in tears.

“Firefly” is no longer living with us. In reality, she has not lived in our home since January 1st of this year, but as of last week, we are no longer her foster parents.

As you can imagine, I can’t say much more about the situation, because #FosterCare. But I want you to know, dear friends, that this was by far the hardest decision we’ve ever made as a family. Without you living our lives, you cannot understand the whys and reasons of our decision and the impact that this has had on her and us.

I can, however, say some words about grief and loss as foster parents.

Foster Parent Grief is real and it SUCKS. Nothing prepares you for the deep aching loss that a foster parent (or any other substitute caregiver) feels when a foster child leaves your home. When a child enters your home, they are a part of your family; they’re one of your kids! Whether you thought they would stay forever in adoption or not, they become a part of you. Foster parents are carers by nature; you don’t just turn that off like a light switch when the child moves on.

UpdatedWall This is our third goodbye to our foster kids and so far it has only gotten more difficult. What made this goodbye especially painful was that we were unable to engage in ritual and celebration by having a farewell party. We also planned for Firefly to join our family by adoption. Sadly, at this point this is no longer an option (again, I cannot elaborate).

I have cried so many tears in the past weeks. Not just a little welling up in the eyes; no, this was curled-up-in-bed, heaving, ugly sobs, that end in sleep because your body just can’t deal with it anymore. I’ve not been well – physically, mentally, or emotionally – for at least the past two months due to the stress of what our lives had become.

For those of you who love a foster parent, here are a few good blog posts about how to help foster parents when a foster child leaves:

CharmBracelet I am so thankful for our support network – friends near and far, family, co-workers, church members – who said EXACTLY the right things to us over the past two weeks. Sometimes it was just “I don’t know what to say but I’m here and I love you.” Some people said “No matter what you’re feeling right now, you’re a good mom.” They gave us permission to feel whatever we were feeling, and we sure felt it all:  guilt, anger, relief (that’s not easy to admit), denial, helplessness, and mostly a profound sadness. To those of you who have walked with us through the pain, thank you.

When a foster child leaves your home, you don’t stop thinking about them. I will forever worry and wonder about “my kids.” They are a part of me and I hope I am forever a part of them.

This week, Firefly was added to our Foster Care Wall and I also added a charm to my foster care charm bracelet in her honor, a microphone, because that girl LOVES to sing! I miss her voice, I miss her face and the feel of her tense, anxious body melting into mine as she calmed down after a tantrum. I miss her fiery personality and her strong capacity to love, despite the ways that life has made loving and trusting so very difficult.

Yes, we will be doing this again. It hurts like I never believed it could, but the need is too great. Firefly attached herself to us and we attached to her, which is exactly what kids in foster care need. (See “My Kids Are Like Duct Tape”) There are so many kids who need someone to grieve them if and when they leave. Yes it hurts, but they are worth all of it, over and over again.

“The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love:it is perhaps the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment.” – Dr. Colin Murray Parkes

Recipe Fakeover: Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe Fakeover

I’m so excited to share this happy accident I stumbled upon! Last week, my husband shoved a bowl in my face and said “Try this.” Naturally, I was skeptical. We don’t have matching taste buds and I frequently find myself screwing up my face and saying “Gross” when he describes some dish he wants to try. But this time, I found some courage and tried it.

“Hmmmmm, this tastes like something…”

What was it? In the bowl was a mixture of cottage cheese and Frank’s Red Hot sauce. Now what he had concocted was cold, but it had the distinct taste and texture of a local favorite at potlucks and Super Bowl parties, Buffalo Chicken Dip!

We decided to try it out for real with some chips. Here’s the super simple recipe, if you can even call it that:

DipIngre1

  1. Put a glob of cottage cheese in a bowl. Maybe 1/2 a cup for yourself, a whole container if you’re making for more, like a party.
  2. Shake some Frank’s Red Hot sauce into the bowl to taste. You’re going to want to start with a conservative amount, taste, and add more.
  3. Add some shredded cheddar cheese and stir.
  4. Microwave for about a minute at 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval
  5. (Optional) If you want to get fancy, you could add some bleu cheese crumbles and/or top with extra cheese and broil that baby for a few minutes.
  6. Choose your favorite chips
  7. Dip and enjoy!

Dip

What I like about this happy discovery:

  • It’s super easy. Not that the original is a big timekiller or anything.
  • You can make it for yourself and not waste any ingredients.
  • This is probably stuff you have on hand.
  • It’s way less calories than the original since you’re not using cream cheese and chicken. I’m no vegetarian, but I like to skip meat when I can.

What are your favorite recipe “fakeovers”?

DIY Fairy Garden & Dragon Lair

As I hope you read in my last post, I’m about to become a Girl Mom again! I’m so excited about Firefly joining our family, whether it’s for a short time or forever!

She’s coming for a weekend “respite” visit tomorrow before she moves in and even though there’s plenty to play with at our house, I wanted to make something for her that would combine her love of playing outside, her great imagination, and her need to play alone at times. I had seen these on Pinterest and decided to try my hand at making our very own fairy garden!

Our DIY Fairy Garden

Fairy Gardens are just miniature play settings that can be in a garden planter, a backyard, or really any setting. You can use “found items” to furnish the garden or there are tons of miniatures available, some specifically for fairy gardens, at craft stores.

I decided to make ours in elevated pots because we have dogs 🙂 They like to pee on everything! I started with one in a medium sized plastic planter and set it on a metal plant stand on the back porch. However once I started putting it together, I realized it wouldn’t be big enough and bought two more plastic pans. When the boys saw what I was making, S insisted that he needed one too – not a fairy garden, but a dragon garden. We call it a Dragon Lair.

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Here’s what I used to make our Fairy Garden and Dragon Lair:

  • 1 medium sized plastic planter – $5 (Family Dollar)
  • 2 short plastic pans (I think they’re for catching motor oil) – $1 each (Dollar Tree)
  • Potting soil – $3 for a large bag (Family Dollar)
  • Small terra cotta pot – $2.00 (Jo-Ann’s Fabric & Craft store)
  • 1 sitting fairy – $8 (Jo-Ann’s)
  • 1 fairy on a swing – $9 (Jo-Ann’s – both of these fairy items were 30% off)
  • 1 bag of dark rocks – $1 (Dollar Tree)
  • 1 bag of small multicolored rocks – $1 (Dollar Tree)
  • A few ceramic stars from a paving stone project when M was a baby – $0 (Found around the house)
  • Green mosaic pieces from the same paving stone project – $0 (Found)
  • 1 marble hotglued to a golf tee to make a gazing ball – $0 (Found)
  • Tiny dog toy/statue – $0 (Found)
  • 1 “pond” made from a painted salsa lid filled with blue glitter glue – $1 (Found)
  • Various artificial flowers and succulents – $1 each (Dollar Tree)
  • Plastic butterflies on stakes – $1 for two (Dollar Tree)
  • Small string of colorful flower lights, battery operated – $1 (Dollar Tree)
  • Plastic dragons – $0 (Found)

About $33 to make three little gardens but you could do it for less if you have these items around your house!

Putting them together is pretty easy and you have to remember that if kids are playing with it you’ll be constantly fixing it back up. For the planter, I started by putting some rocks (roughly fist-sized) in the bottom of the planter so I would be using less potting soil and make it heavier/less likely to topple over. Then I added the soil and placed the items. Same for the others, just minus the rocks on the bottom.

Here’s our setup all put together on a little table on the back porch.

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Spencer's Dragon Lair :)

Spencer’s Dragon Lair 🙂

I sent a photo to Firefly’s current foster mom and she said “Oh wow she is going to love that!” so I’m excited to see her reaction to it tomorrow!

Do you have a fairy garden at your house? What would you add to my fairy garden?

Welcome, Firefly!

I have big news, people!

Firefly

We got The Call yesterday! Almost two months after hearing about her for the first time, Firefly is coming to live with us!

IMG_3091 We had an overnight visit with her over the weekend, after completing two “playdates” with her where we got to meet her and learn more about her personality and her needs. She is currently in a loving foster home and they are going to miss her a lot. They have already done so much with us to make the transition as smooth as possible to honor her time with them.

We don’t yet have a timeline, but it looks like Firefly will move in within the next two weeks! We had already tentatively planned a full weekend respite for this coming weekend and we had talked about the following weekend being Move In Weekend if that got approved.

We told the boys about Firefly coming to live with us and they were so excited! We had discussed the
previous day about the possibility of her coming and that she might become open for adoption and that we would be pursuing that if/when it happens. They really like her and she seems to like them. When we were talking to the boys on Monday about her coming and what that would mean, we used way too many words and finally M stopped me and said “Okay. I think that’s enough, Mom. We get it.” 🙂 But last night after we IMG_3096 had celebrated a little bit, Mr. Playdate Crasher prayed for our dinner and M said “I’d like to pray also” so he prayed about Firefly coming to live with us. So so sweet.

We are so thrilled to become a part of Firefly’s story! She is already so loved and we desperately want permanency for her. We pray that it can come with us and it looks like things might be headed in that direction. We’re coming in near the end of Firefly’s foster care story, but unfortunately this story is far too long already. She has been in foster care for over half of her life and she deserves a family that means FOREVER.

We really appreciate everyone’s kind words and prayers for us and we continue to ask for them!

And We Wait…

This week might be the longest week of my life.

My husband and I have once again found ourselves in a season of waiting. As I wrote in my last post, we are in a matching process for a foster-to-adopt placement. That process is still ongoing, but is (thankfully) wrapping up now.

The way it has worked for us, since this is kind of an unusual way to get a foster placement, is that this child is approaching a Termination of Parental Rights hearing after being in the system for a very long time. The social workers believe that her next placement should be her forever home. She cannot remain in her current home for several reasons. So we found out about her about 6 weeks ago when the foster care team leader at our agency said ”I’d like to tell you a little girl who needs a placement. We’ve been trying to figure out what to do with her, and everyone around the office says ‘You need to talk to Krista about her.'” So she did. I sat in her office and got the scoop, then met the little girl’s foster dad about an hour later and heard even more about her.

I went home and told Brandon everything I had heard and we discussed our thoughts and concerns. The next week, we met with the foster mother, the state/DCBS worker, and the foster care team leader for a very long time and heard in great detail what this child has endured; how she has been failed by her family and by the system. We asked lots of questions about her struggles and also about her strengths.

And then we met her.

She was at the office for an appointment and as we were wrapping up our conversation, she came in to see her foster mom. She walked in, wearing this lavender dress and a little white sweater, and she peered at us from her big brown eyes under her messy brown hair. It’s a surreal feeling to look at a stranger and know that one day she might be your daughter.

By this time, the worker knew we were interested and she had narrowed her search to us and one other family. At that meeting, it was decided that each family would get two “playdates” with her, in the same relative location under the same circumstances, and the girl’s foster mom will get to judge our interactions and fit. She doesn’t technically get to decide, but her opinion and observations will take on great weight for the worker. We set up our first playdate immediately because that’s how we roll. We met at a local Chick-fil-A for two hours one Saturday and had our second one a little over a week later at a park. The other family finally had their second playdate yesterday, this process being dragged out weeks longer than anticipated.

During the past 6 weeks, I’m sure I’ve driven our worker and the foster mom absolutely bananas with my questions, but it’s all because I’m trying to prepare for this child as much as I can. This kiddo comes with a lot of “baggage” and it will absolutely be a big adjustment for our family.

At this point all we can do is wait and pray. Both families have done all they’re supposed to do, so the foster mom will deliver her report to the decision makers and we wait for the phone call or email that will change our lives.

I feel at peace. We couldn’t have done more than what we did. I have to remind myself that I’m not in control, I’m never in control of this. But I don’t believe in coincidences and I don’t think it’s an accident that our lives have intersected at this time.

So we wait. Not exactly patiently, but I’m peaceful. God is sovereign. He has never forgotten this child. He has never forgotten us. And He’s got this.

Apps I Use as a Foster Parent

May is National Foster Care Month! If you’ve been wondering if foster parenting is right for you, take the next step TODAY and contact a local foster care agency! See the bottom of the post for a quick update on our foster parenting!

You don’t have to be perfect to be a foster parent, but it sure does help to be organized! Now here’s a little secret for you:  I like the idea of organization, and every few weeks I will declare that “We’re getting organized around here, people!” but honestly? I’m a slob. I’m terrible about returning things to their rightful place and don’t even get me started on the piles of “I need to sort through those” papers that collect around our house. It’s hard, y’all!

So while home organization systems are great in theory, I find that I rely on my phone quite a bit. And not just for organization, for the scheduling, the phone calls, and more! Here’s a list of apps we frequently use as foster parents:

Apps I use as a foster parent

Cozi (iOS/Android, Free)

I’ve written a standalone post all about how Cozi saved my foster parenting sanity, but it deserves another shout out! We use Cozi every day to keep track of the appointments coming up for all of the members of our family. We also use it to keep up with lists – shopping, To dos, etc. I use it monthly when preparing our financial statements for our agency. What did we do this month and where did we go? If it’s not in my calendar, it didn’t happen!

Sunrise (iOS/Android, Free)

So I have my Cozi calendar and also my Outlook calendar at work, but I needed them to all come together nicely. It required a little bit of a workaround – subscribing to my Cozi calendar with a Google calendar and then syncing the Google calendar with Sunrise, which is a Windows/Office product, but finally I have everything all in one spot! The standard iPhone calendar just wasn’t doing it for me.

Here’s another awesome thing that I love about the Sunrise calendar – you can use it to add the Meet keyboard to make scheduling with others an absolute snap. Read more about that here: https://sunrise.am/meet/ 

Google Voice (iOS/Android, Free)

Just like Cozi, my love for Google Voice has its very own post here about how and why we use it. Basically we use Google Voice because it’s free (unlike a Tracfone) way to have a separate/anonymous phone number to be used only for birth family contact. You can schedule Do Not Disturb times or just turn it on and off to keep from getting calls outside the appointed times. In short, it’s great and you should try it if your foster kiddos have contact with birth family members!

Tiny Scanner (iOS/Android, Free*)

We live about 30-40 minutes away from our foster care agency and while we’re there pretty regularly, it’s usually more efficient to email items to our workers. Obviously this means that things need to be made digital, so a scanner becomes important. Most of our forms cannot be filled in electronically; they’re written on by hand. So I can either scan them from work OR use an app to do it. My husband found the Tiny Scanner app, which produces high quality PDFs that you can email right from the app! This is perfect for reports, receipts, school excuse notes from the counselor, and more!

*The free version has some limitations on its features. We found it worth the few dollars for the full version!

Outlook / OneDrive (iOS/Android, Free)

In my attempt to keep our digital lives organized, I use OneDrive for our family’s Outlook account. I create folders for everything – behavior reports, financial reports, receipts, etc – and attach items to emails from the app. So simple!

Podcasts (iOS*, Free)

Last but not least, I need to give some love to the Podcasts app (iOS). I’m a long time podcast listener, and within the last 2 years, I’ve found several foster parenting or adoption podcasts that have given me invaluable information and inspiration. The first one is the appropriately named The Foster Parenting Podcast. There are at least 120 episodes – you can follow T & W’s foster care journey all the way through. I won’t “spoil” the podcast, but it has a very happy ending! And I don’t think they’re exactly done, but they aren’t podcasting regularly. However, listening to the back catalog will take you some time. I listened to all episodes last year while we waited for our first placement and I’ve started listening to them all again as we are in yet another season of waiting! Another great podcast for foster parents is the Honestly Speaking Parenting Podcast with Kristin and Mike Berry!

*While Apple’s Podcasts app isn’t on Android, there are plenty of podcast service apps available for Android devices!

What apps do you use regularly as a foster parent? Share in the comments!

An update on our foster parenting “journey”:

The girls left our home in December and February. We miss them terribly! We took a short break from placements because we had a vacation planned for Spring Break. When we arrived home from vacation, we learned about a little girl needing a foster-to-adopt placement. We are midway through the matching process for her, as of May 5th, 2016. We should know something in the next few weeks!

Review: Plackers Dual Grip Fruit Smoothie Swirl Flossers

We all want to do everything we can to keep our kids safe, happy, and healthy. While we, as parents, understand the importance of dental health, our kids are typically reluctant (to say the least!) to develop good dental hygiene practices.

Here’s how the conversation usually goes at our house:

Me:  “Okay Miles, it’s time for you to shower! Be sure to brush your teeth before you come out of the bathroom!”

Miles:  *grumbles* “I don’t wanna brush my teeth.”

Me:  “It’s important that you brush your teeth! Brushing your teeth keeps your mouth clean and your breath nice and fresh!”

Miles:  “…Okay.”

*Miles showers*

Me:  “Did you brush your teeth?”

Miles:  “………………………………….”

Me:  *sighs, points to the bathroom* “Back in there.”

Repeat ad nauseum

And that’s just one of them! There’s at least one other kid in our house at any time who “doesn’t wanna”

Plackers Flossers and Plackers Flosser Friend

Plackers Flossers and Plackers Flosser Friend

brush their teeth. So yeah, dental hygiene is a touchy subject in our house, especially after Miles, our 7 year old, had to have several cavities filled recently.

We were given the opportunity to try Plackers Dual Grip Fruit Smoothie Flossers for kids, a new product with your kids’ oral health in mind!

Introducing new kids flossers from Plackers. The new Plackers flossers are designed to promote healthy oral habits for kids—not an easy task. Our new kids flossers feature a dual grip handle and angled head to make it easy to use for different ages, and the “Hi-tech” floss cleans more tooth surface. Check out the new Plackers “Flosser Friend“.

  • Reduces tooth decay and promotes healthier gums

  • Removes plaque and food

  • Provides fluoride

  • Fruit Smoothie Swirl flavor

  • BPA Free

  • Available in 75 count


The boys allowed me to help them floss their teeth and though they were cautious of this colorful contraption, they were pleasantly surprised! “It doesn’t hurt!” they said! And “Oh! It tastes yummy!” Indeed it does – don’t just take their word for it, I tried them myself and they certainly do taste yummy! The Fruit Smoothie flossers have a subtle fruit taste to them that really leaves your mouth feeling clean and fresh.

Spencer tries Plackers Flossers for kids

Spencer tries Plackers Flossers for kids

Spencer tries Plackers Flossers for kids

Spencer tries Plackers Flossers for kids

But the good people at Plackers don’t just want moms and dads to floss their kids’ teeth, they want kids to learn how to floss as well! Here’s a great video about how to get your kids to floss:


With Plackers Dual Grip Fruit Smoothie Swirl Flossers for kids, my kids are on the road to better oral health! Pick some up wherever you buy dental products – packs of 75 are at a great price, and teaching your kids healthy habits is an investment I can get behind!

Plackers Flossers for Kids

Plackers Flossers for Kids

To make things even more fun and convenient, check out the Plackers Flosser Friend, which stores your Plackers Flossers in a clean, adorable container in your bathroom. Having the flossers available for your kids in a visible location will help remind them to floss regularly (so you don’t have to nag!).

Disclosure:  This is a paid review post. I was compensated for this post and received complimentary product to facilitate my review.

Book Review: The Adventures of Camp Nana Papa

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There are some things in life you should never take for granted. Hot showers, indoor plumbing, smartphones, and Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter, to name a few. But more importantly are the relationships that you should value with everything you have.

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I feel extremely blessed to have a great relationship with my parents. I grew up with my mom and dad – he was a preacher, she was a teacher – and my sister. While we had our issues with one another, our bond was strong and continues to this day. My parents were involved in my life growing up; they were a source of comfort, comfort, and love. They were there for me through school, my wedding, there for the birth of my children (Mom was in the delivery room with Spencer!), and now live within 30 minutes of our home. We worship together at church and my mom volunteers at the school where I work.

CampNanaPapa3

We have not had the opportunity for such a close relationship with my mother in law, who passed away at a young age, right after our oldest son was born. While we do have a good relationship with my father in law and my husband’s stepmother, it has taught us not to take people for granted. You never know how long the people dear to you will be around.

CampNanaPapa4

I was asked to receive and review a children’s book, The Adventures of Camp Nana Papa, written by Donnie Cranfill (illustrations by Jeffrey Ebbeler).

From the Publisher

The Adventures of Camp Nana Papa™ is the book grandchildren love! We introduce you to Nick and Sarah and their amazing friend Flash the Firefly™ as they enjoy a wonderful weekend full of activities and fun with their grandparents at Camp Nana Papa! The hard back book comes with a dust jacket and rich illustrations bringing Nick’s, Sarah’s, and Flash’s adventure to life. Follow them as they swim, run, play, go to the zoo, roast marshmallows and much more! Written by Donnie Cranfill with illustrations by Jeffrey Ebbeler. The book is 34 pages long including 6 pages of fun activities to make each copy personal and special for each grandchild!

This adorable book is all about the lasting relationship between grandchild and grandparent and the fun adventures this family has together. My kids have been fortunate to spend weekends and even week-long stays with Grandma and Grandpa, where they go to museums, parks, fun events, and more! My mom, a veteran teacher, even plans activities so they can have themed “Grandma School”! It’s adorable.

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The Adventures of Camp Nana Papa would be an excellent gift for a child who is planning a getaway to Grandma and Grandpa’s home, or a Grandparents Day present for a loving grandparent in your life! We love this book for the bright illustrations and warm storyline. Visit www.CampNanaPapa.com to purchase the book and get other great ideas for your family’s own Camp Nana Papa!

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Disclosure:  I was given a complimentary copy of the book to facilitate my review. I was not paid for this review.

Book Review: Wally Wuzzlemoore Makes New Friends

As a child, I was painfully shy. Just the thought of having to speak to a stranger was enough to make me cry. Not only was this difficult for me in general, we also moved several times when I was a child. Making new friends was NOT easy for me, and I know it’s a tough thing for many kids.

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Tom Shinderling‘s delightful new children’s book, Wally Wuzzlemoore Makes New Friends, is a great resource for families experiencing change or children who have social anxieties. In the story, Wally Wuzzlemoore and his mother, both charming little monsters, move to a new town and Wally sets out to make friends. Along the way, he discovers that other people are different from him, and that’s okay! He also learns that while his peers might not all have the same interests and abilities as him, he can still be friendly and nice to them.

WallyWuzzlemoore2I love this book because it teaches kids valuable lessons about friends and classmates. Every child doesn’t have to be your best friend, but they still are owed your time and kindness. There are lots of types of people in this world, but we can learn from one another and get to know what we want and need in a friend – that’s a lesson even adults can use!

This book is wonderful for kids who are new to a town or school, and in my job at a private school and as a foster parent, I can think of many ways I will use this book. I know lots of kids who do not make friends very easily and could benefit from this lovely story about a monster going through the same thing!

You can pick up Wally Wuzzlemoore Makes New Friends or other titles from Tom Schinderling on his website or at online retailers Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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**Disclosure** I was offered a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid for this post.