Our Life Together

The beginning…

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This is the first steps in our parenting journey.

It was the year 2000
We couldn’t get pregnant.  I needed pills and pills and tests and tests, and the whole time I kept saying, “we can adopt… I want to adopt too, so we could just do that now instead of waiting…”  Ron was in agreement, but he was also busy moving us.  We had a new assignment at a new church and we were moving back down closer to our hometowns and our parents.  We decided to wait until we were settled in the new house and then begin the process of adoption. (We were so naive about how all of that would work).

Year 2003
We move back near home and get settled into our new house.  I start to notice that I feel weird and that I’m cranky… well, more cranky than normal 🙂  I’m actually being super moody and freaking out for no real reason.  My mother suggests that I take a pregnancy test… I guess she’s had enough of my attitude. Ron was gone to camp to be a counselor during this time, so it’s good that he wasn’t around me during this time.

I bought a test but decided to wait until he came home from camp so he could be there when I took the test.  It was positive!! I was so excited.  We were busy getting everything ready for the baby, and then busy taking care of the baby.  That first year Ron graduated seminary and entered the Air Force as a reservist.  He was technically an IMA Chaplain, but that’s not what this post is about.  So let’s just say he continued to preach for the UM Church and do his regular monthly reserve duty at Little Rock Air Base.  I kept assuming we would adopt, but we would start it all when the baby was a little older.

Year 2005
Once again… I started taking all the pills… and running all the tests… this time we added in a fertility monitor someone sold us and bought our first pack of testing sticks… y’all… those things are expensive!!

Year 2006
One month using the fertility monitor and it told me exactly when I ovulated… I got pregnant.  This was 2 years after Price was born, so don’t think this happened right away.

Another baby on the way, getting everything ready for that, and Ron telling me he wants to go into the Air Force on active duty… meaning, full-time.  I was completely good with following him wherever he thought God was leading, so we started getting all of that ready and all of that training done.

We had the second baby, Wesley, and I settled in as best as I could with being a stay-at-home-mom with two kiddos, and Ron was still preaching and doing his reserve duties.

Year 2007
When Wesley was only 2 months old or so, we found out our first assignment with the Air Force on active duty… Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

We’ll start the next part at Peterson…  July 2007…

Foster Children

Our first Christmas as foster parents…

I wrote this while we were living in Turkey… we moved there from Colorado Springs and I was missing our foster kids.  I’m going to write about that experience as we go along, but here is a glimpse into what it was like with our first foster child.

Our “Extra” Child Christmas

It had been a crazy, chaotic, but wonderful six months in the Feeser house in Colorado Springs, CO. We had completed our foster parenting paperwork in June, and got a call the very next week about a boy. He was already at the DHS (Department of Human Services) office, and they wanted me to come get him. I loaded up my own boys, Price(4) and Wesley(1), and we drove over. When I first saw him I fell in love. He had straight, blonde hair that stuck out from his head in all directions, scared and confused blue eyes, and the cutest little nose that I can still see three years later when I close my eyes. He was holding a backpack bigger than his nearly three year old body, and holding a blanket that the DHS worker had given him. My kids were so excited that a new boy was coming to our house, and we soon had him loaded in a car seat and on our way. They played all afternoon together and I had dreams of how easy and great this would all be.

Of course, the “newness” wore off, and he began to act like the little boy he was. A sweet little boy who had been neglected for most of his three years. He wanted to be loved by anyone who would, and in turn, he loved everyone he saw. He was always shy and apprehensive at first, but after just a few minutes he would feel comfortable and come out hugging everyone.

We had more foster children come and go during those first six months with *Ethan, but when Christmas came, it was just him. We had already decided to just make him as much a part of the family as possible, so he participated in everything we did, and we loved him just like our own. We also knew that the time was drawing closer and closer that he would be taken from us and sent to live forever with his grandmother in another state. I tried to make everything about that Christmas as special as possible, and I tried to sear the memory of everything we did in my mind so I would never forget it. I always take pictures anyway, just of everyday things (even random butterflies and sunsets), so I have many pictures to look back on that time and remember.

We didn’t do anything that year that we wouldn’t normally do, but there was still something more special about it all. We tried not to buy him more things just because he was leaving us soon. We tried not to let him get away with bad behaviors just because he wasn’t going to be around next Christmas.

Christmas morning was a special time that I will never forget. He came into the living room and saw the tree with all the gifts around it. He just stopped and stared. Price, our oldest son, who knew what this was all about, ran straight to the tree and started asking which pile was his. But Ethan just stood there and looked. He had never gotten anything from Santa that he could remember, and wasn’t sure that anything was for him. I went over to the tree with Wesley (who had just turned two) and led Ethan to his pile of toys and clothes from Santa. His face lit up when he realized it was for him, and he never stopped smiling as he and the other boys played with everything they had gotten.

Just two weeks later, I packed up all those toys and clothes and everything else he’d gotten in the six months he was with us, and I loaded him up on an airplane with his grandmother to move away from us forever. He hasn’t been with us physically for a Christmas in three years, but those sweet blue eyes and spiky blond hair are in my memories every Christmas morning.

*his name has been changed for protection purposes.

  • It’s been 7 years now since he left us, and his picture hangs in the hall with the rest of them.  I know when his birthday is still and I think about him more than I thought I would.  I think of them all… can tell you all of their names and birthdays.  Tell you what I loved most about each of them and what drove me craziest! 🙂  They are mine… at least part of them is… and part of me will always be theirs…

 

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

Sunday Sermon Recap

Take Time by Turning Off…

1 Corinthians 12: 1-11

“Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.  You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.  Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.  There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”

The sermon this week was all about turning off our electronics and focusing on people face-to-face…

Going into the hospital scared me.  I was just minding my business… shopping for Christmas gifts (we were almost done… just a couple more things for the kids)… then BAM!  I’m having emergency surgery to remove a baby I didn’t even know I had been carrying.  I’m being transferred to a hospital while unconscious, waking up to find out I had no idea what was going on and no way of talking to the people around me… I was scared.

I came home almost a week later and I was different.  Things looked different.  The closer I got to my house and my children, the more I cried.  I had been a weepy mess since it started, so I knew that wasn’t changing much, but that wasn’t the only thing different.  I laid in bed that night (pretending to try to sleep), and just listening to my kids laughing.  I let their little laughs put me to sleep that night.  And I realized I had been taking them for granted.

That’s not something I ever thought would happen.  I mean, I worked HARD for those babies.  I suffered through awful things to get pregnant with them and give birth to them.  I was one of the lucky ones… fertility treatments worked for me… and I had been giving my kids the left-overs.  I was always just a little too late when one would say “Momma look at this!”  Because whatever I was doing was too important to look away from a second sooner.  “You missed it… that’s okay!”  They are so forgiving… even when I fail them time and again.

Not anymore… I still do the things I did before (crocheting… listening to podcasts and audio books… reading actual paper books or books on my kindle), but I try to look the FIRST time… “Momma look!”  And I do…

The distractions around us might not be the same ones that Paul was talking about when he wrote this letter to the church at Corinth, but they had distractions also that kept them from the same things that ours keep us from… we don’t use our gifts because we are too busy being distracted.

No one is saying to stop using technology… we couldn’t function, right!?!  BUT we can definitely use it less… “Take Time by Turning Off”… that’s my new motto…

If I am engaged in something that I don’t want to be interrupted while doing (that really is only my bible reading in the mornings), then I tell them ahead of time that I’m putting headphones in to listen to music while I read and reflect… please don’t interrupt.  They are old enough to take care of themselves, so they leave me alone for that time.  Any other time, I try to be available to them.  I just do… no excuses… none…

They’re only going to be in my house for a very short period of time… I want to actively enjoy the crap out of them while they are here… and I am!!

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

Who am I?? – Teacher

I teach, therefore I…

So that English degree that I told you about in another post is used still today (although I joke that I don’t use it at all!).  I use it especially when I read Facebook posts where the grammar is horrific!! And especially memes… I don’t care what the point of the meme is, if they can’t use the correct form of your/you’re and their/there/they’re, I can’t focus on what it’s saying!  I just can’t.  I realize that sometimes people make an accidental mistake and they actually know the difference, and I can overlook it in a text or something else that is quickly written and maybe being read by one person, but if you are making a meme there are two rules you should follow:  1. Is everything spelled correctly?  2. Is my grammar correct?  That’s it… if those two things are good, then I’ll check out your meme and laugh about it… otherwise, I’ll scroll on past while I shake my head and the lack of thought that went into it… and please don’t share memes that don’t have those two rules either.

Okay… all of that sounded snobbish, and while it is actually what I think, I never say anything about it.  I just don’t tell people when they’ve made grammatical errors.  One of my favorite English professors in college said this about correcting people’s grammar.  She said, “I don’t correct grammar unless the person is my child or a student in class.  You shouldn’t do it either because it really is none of your business.  No one will talk to you after you correct them either for fear that they will say something to bring about your wrath.  So just mind your own business and don’t do it!”  I’ve followed that rule since she said it.  I hadn’t thought that maybe my friends and family members didn’t like it when I told them they should say that “the bike is BROKEN” instead of “the bike is broke”.  So now I only correct my children, and since they’ve grown up listening to me MOSTLY use correct grammar, then it isn’t as much of an issue.  I do still think it, but I can’t really help that part, and I do a great job of keeping my mouth shut about it! 🙂

One more thing about grammar, and then I promise to get on to the “teacher” part of this post! 🙂  If you think someone (usually someone online) is being stupid or acting like an idiot… please, please, please… just don’t say anything! 🙂  We all know that’s the correct response.  Just be nice to them or don’t respond to them at all.  HOWEVER, if you just HAVE to say something and tell them how dumb you think they are… don’t say “your an idiot!”  The “idiot” might not get the mistake, but the majority of the people who read this will likely think that maybe you are the idiot… BUT… just don’t say mean things period… this also applies if someone is amazing!!  “your amazing” is still incorrect… 🙂  So don’t do that either!

Okay… I graduated from college and became a stay at home wife.  I thought I’d be great at this job because I’d have all day to decide what we would eat for dinner and to clean the house and have everything perfect.  That’s when I discovered a few things about me…

  1. I don’t enjoy cooking.
  2. I HATE to clean.
  3. I like to watch movies.
  4. I like to do crafty things.

None of these things are good qualities listed in whatever job description we all hear about when talking about being  a housewife (don’t like that term!), so I sucked at this.  (I still do actually, and it’s been 16 years!)

I wanted to cross-stitch and watch movies while I did it.  I didn’t want to clean this gigantic house that I was having problems living in because all the bedrooms made me realize that I wanted babies in them and that wasn’t happening.  I just didn’t know what to do.

My husband (who is a MUCH better housewife than me!) suggested I see about substitute teaching at the local high school.  This will have to be a whole other blog series because this school was CRAZY!!! I did teach, for one year.  That’s all I could take… in that one year, I was subpoenaed to court to testify against the principal who was arrested TWO different times during that school year.  I saw children doing things that I had only just started doing since I had just gotten married.  It was just out of control, and I’ve just decided to make this my first blog series after Who am I??

After that job, we moved and I got pregnant.  Price was born and we were living so close to Hamburg (where I grew up), and my old principal when I went to school there was now the superintendent of schools and he told me there was good chance I would get a job at my old high school, if I wanted it.

I tried to do the stay-at-home-mom thing, now that I was officially a mom, but I stunk at that too.  It still involved all the same “requirements” as a housewife, only now I had a baby to deal with on top of it.  The “baby” was now 18 months old and I decided teaching again seemed like a good idea.

I LOVED being back at my old high school.  I was in the teacher’s lounge hanging out with my old teachers.  It was awesome… and surreal!  That school year was weird though because I didn’t actually have a classroom, I had a cart! 🙂  I’ll post more about that later too… I got pregnant again while I was teaching there and decided that with a toddler and now a baby on the way, I really wanted to stay home with them.  I loved being a mommy and didn’t like that I didn’t get to see Price all day while I was teaching.

We moved to Colorado Springs when Price was 3 and Wesley was 8 months old.  Ron was officially on active duty in the Air Force, and I was staying home with my babies.  I loved it.  I decided that homeschooling was going to be the best way for us to be able to do all the things we wanted to do.  I wanted to travel and we wanted to be able to go home and visit whenever we wanted to.  These things would be made easier by homeschooling, and i figured if I could teach 25-30 high schoolers, then I could teach one on one with my own kids.

I’ve been teaching them for 8 years, and it’s looked different from time to time.  I’ll write more about the ways in which we’ve home-schooled throughout the years and how it looks for us as an ever-evolving entity.  It’s the best decision for our family, but I know it’s not the best for everyone.  This is another area where I try to keep my mouth shut and answer questions when I’m asked, but not butt in when I’m not asked.

I am a teacher, and I love to teach.  Not just my children, but bible studies at our church (I’m about to start a new one), new foster parents about how the “system” works in whatever state we happen to live in.  I love giving information to people and seeing that moment when it clicks in their brains or when they connect it to something else they’ve learned.  It’s a great feeling…

Now go teach someone something… I know you know something that someone needs to know or would love to know!  And for those grammar police out there… see how many run-on sentences you can spot in this post… it’s really the only way I write because it’s the way I speak… run-on sentences and stream of consciousness!!

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

 

 

Who am I?? – Mother

I am a mother… to many…

*I have been a mother to 13 different children… Read on!!

Being a mother has been my dream since I was a little kid.  I was a tomboy, for sure, growing up.  My only sibling, a brother, is 6 years older than me and I followed him around everywhere.  I wanted to do anything he did, and firmly believed I could do anything too.  He put up with me for the most part, but definitely got tired of his little sister following him around… I’m sure there will be more stories involving him as we go along with this thing, but this one is about being a mother.

When I wasn’t following after my brother and his friends and playing whatever sport they would let me join in on, I was carrying around a baby doll.  I didn’t have many barbies, because I didn’t like them.  I didn’t want to play with an adult doll… or even a teenager… I wanted the babies.  I had a cabbage patch kid (as did every child in the 80’s), but my favorite was a doll called a “Real Baby”.  I tried to search for this to show you what it looked like or even see if they still make them, and I couldn’t find anything about my baby.  What I did find was baby dolls that look so real it was scary.  So… just picture a doll that looked like about a 3 month old baby.  I had a boy, of course, because I didn’t want baby girls.  Anyway, I carried this baby with me everywhere.  I’m sure I threw him down somewhere when it was time to play sports of some kind, but mostly I took great care of him.  I even named him AJ (Andrew Joshua)… The story behind the name may be revealed in a story one day too!

When Ron and I got married, many years after AJ had gone away, we both had some pretty cemented thoughts about children.  I wanted to have 4, he wanted 2.  That was the only thing we disagreed about.  He wanted them to be able to do whatever they wanted with their hair because “it might not be there long” (his hair started falling out when he was 16.. this was particularly devastating to his hair-band-loving self).  I didn’t have an opinion about hair, so that one was okay (I was just praying their hair wouldn’t be as kinky, curly as mine).  I wanted to adopt children.  I didn’t care where we adopted them from, but I knew I wanted to adopt.  He didn’t seem to have an opinion about this at all.

We were married in July of 1999, and in May of that year I had gone to the gynecologist for the first time and gotten on birth control pills.  (We wanted to wait at least a year before having a baby, but not really any longer than a year).

I took those pills for exactly one year, and then I stopped.  I assumed that I would just get pregnant.  I didn’t occur to me that it wouldn’t happen.  That my dream might not happen just as I had planned it.  We were living in a parsonage with 3 bedrooms, a huge formal living and dining room, and it was just too much room for us.  I wanted to fill those rooms with babies.  Instead, it was just us… the whole time.

In 2003, after fertility treatments, I got pregnant the first time.  Our son was born March 15, 2004.  We decided since we had so much trouble the first time, we wouldn’t worry with birth control and I’d probably just get pregnant again soon.

In 2006, after more fertility treatments, I got pregnant again.  Our second son was born on November 28, 2006.  That was the end of the fertility treatments for me.

I decided that I was done with all of the mess that went along with those things.  Infertility posts will definitely be coming because that defined the first years of our marriage, and even longer in my heart.

We became foster parents and have fostered 8 children.  I know each of their birthdays and have a tiny celebration inside each time one of them rolls around, but I only get to see pictures of 3 of them.  We would’ve adopted every one of them, but that’s not exactly the way the system works, so they all ended up somewhere else.  Not with me physically, but with me in every other way.

In 2015, we finally got our girl! 🙂  We didn’t adopt her, but we do have custody of her, so I claim her every chance I get.  She was 16 when she came to live with us, and we had known her since birth, so it wasn’t as hard as if we had taken someone from foster care whom we’d never met.  Not that this isn’t still one of our goals, but I know it’ll be different from what this is.

In 2015, I got pregnant again.  This time I didn’t even know it.  My body, at least the reproductive parts of it, had been messed up for so long at this point that I just thought maybe I was going through menapause early.  I had just turned 38, so maybe I was just early.  I didn’t take a pregnancy test because I didn’t think I was pregnant, and after so many years of taking test after test, month after month and really feeling like I was pregnant, and test after test, month after month seeing a negative test wasn’t something I wanted to repeat again.  So, I just didn’t do it.

When I was 12 weeks pregnant, the baby died.  No one knows why, and no one even knows exactly when.  On November 28, 2015, I started to bleed.  I was in a store (near the hospital, thankfully) and blood just started running down my legs.  I knew something was wrong, but there was no pain.  My first thought was miscarriage, but I didn’t think that could be true because I didn’t think it was possible for me to even be pregnant.

The baby died months before my body decided it needed to get it out.  The doctor thinks that the baby was dead for two months before my body let me know.  It’s rare, but it does happen that the body just hangs on.  I have the ultrasound picture of my third baby, but that’s it.  Not with me physically again… and not even a mental picture to go with a birth day.  I could figure out about when the baby would’ve been born (at least around the month), but I’m not sure I can handle it right now.  It’s been 6 weeks and I’ve not even begun to know how I feel about it.  On one hand, it seems like madness to miss something I didn’t even know I had.  On the other hand, I feel like I’ve missed something wonderful and magnificent by not knowing this baby.  There are a million what-ifs, but none of them really matter.  Nothing brings that baby back, and nothing gives me more than an ultrasound photo.  We just keep walking forward… that’s what this is about… my journey forward!

and still I say….
Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda

 

Who Am I??

An Intro to me! #1

Who am I?

This question could be answered in a lot of different ways, but I’ll try to keep the list short for now.  Since this is a commonly used phrase in our world today, I’ll say these are the things I “identify as”:

That’s probably enough for now.  I’ll spend the next few posts sharing what each of these roles or “hats” means to me, and how these roles are changing somewhat in my life.

Once I learn how all of this works, I’ll figure out how to link each of these words to the post about them.  Until then… you and I both will just have to be lost!  *The ones that are linked won’t come up until those posts are done, but I learned how to link and was pretty excited about it! 🙂

Also, we will discuss my aversions to taking pictures of myself or having my picture taken, but until then, enjoy the latest pics I have of myself.  This was the day after Christmas 2015 before and after my haircut!

Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!

Amanda