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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Once Upon A Time...

You know your site is complete with it has a HoneyBucket!

Once upon a time the Royals decided to build a house. Everything took longer than expected yet time and again pieces fell into place in the nick of time. Last week the concrete was poured into the forms, within 24 hours it rained enough to cause mud and dirt to slide downhill. Had the footings not yet been poured, the forms would have been filled with mud and dirt making the concrete work nearly impossible. But now there are footings, the build goes on! The poor concrete guys worked in their raingear through the big storm last week all day while the kids and I just made a quick trip to "leave our mark" in the concrete.
Before the rain
Daily Progress



Thursday, October 6, 2016

Groundbreaking

This is it! This is the moment we have been waiting for. The moment we hoped for since before Capper was born. The moment when I can finally announce, "WE HAVE BROKEN GROUND!" After years of planning and months of prep work, our building permit was released on Monday! So here we go, it's going to be a busy year but by next fall we will be living in the house we built! Or rather the house we paid to have built but did a few things here and there. Either way, it's exciting!
The easier way to remove a tree
My Dad in the excavator, Daniel in the tractor. Clearing the land!
I can't believe how different things look in just one week. The footings will be poured tomorrow and it's not a day too soon. The ground water has already started to come up and is within inches of being at the level of our footings. If we had a few large rains we would have to wait until spring to pour.
Yes, those are my amazing parents. 
Almost ready for concrete

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Well-ness

Standing in the entryway
"No arsenic detected." Of course it sounds good to you, but to us it's like a song. The first well, the well that took MONTHS to drill, the well that was 8 times deeper than planned, the well that we almost gave up on, THAT well has good water! We waited over a week for the 5 minute water test to be resulted because the lab was backlogged. That seems to be how everything had been going...slowly...so we wait.

The building permits, the ones we paid to have expedited, they are still pending...every once in awhile the status gets updated...but we are a week away from 5 months since they were submitted.

One well completed, time to bore under a stream and under a road, and across our entire property, and hook it up to...our NEIGHBOR'S house! Yes, that's right, this was just for them since their existing well is part of an easement on our property.

I dreaded the second well...after the trial of the first...the depth of the first...the suspense of the first...and having to answer the question of, "Any progress on the well??" which was usually, "No." And then it happened. I almost forgot to look. He moved the drill rig...we waited awhile...he got some pipe...we waited awhile...and then the bottles were sitting there. Two beautiful (actually dirty) bottles sitting in the grass...WATER SAMPLES! The second well is only 40 feet deep and a plentiful source. The water for our HOME has been accessed. Tomorrow at 7:00am I will bring the water samples to the lab. They need to go in within 24 hours so the bacteria count isn't affected...and if the bacteria is low and the arsenic is low, we are on to the next step.

So in the meantime we do what we can. A bit of silt fence, a bit of tree trimming, color choices, siding choices, roof choices, hardware choices, and toilet choices to name a few. It's hard to get excited when the waiting has felt so long but it's starting to get real now.

 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

"The goal of this blog is to allow others to share our journey of an expanding family and to ask for prayer as others share in this journey." In hindsight I probably should have written "our changing family" or something like that. Because in the last 6 years our family has grown, and shrunk, and grown again. And one day it will shrink again. But does it really shrink? The members of our family will always have their place, their unique personalities and roles, even when they are no longer physically present, their presence will forever be felt. There has been movement on Sweetie's transition, I won't be surprised if she moves by the end of this year. I also won't be surprised if she still lives with us a year from now. That is how "the system" works. 

We don't talk to her about each small progression. She knows she will move "someday" and that God only knows when that will be. Bringing up small milestones will be too anxiety provoking. For now she is in preschool here. She makes plans for her birthday (which isn't until December) and she continues to grow up. The little girl who came to live with us in January has definitely grown into a big girl. From not knowing how to dress herself to being a very independent 4 year old with strong opinions about what to wear each day! The little girl who couldn't use scissors or draw now makes beautiful art. The little girl who couldn't run across the yard can now keep up with Capper. The little girl who used to wake up with nightmares multiple times every night is now our best sleeper!! This girl has also memorized Bible verses at our AWANA program and can tell us all about how "God made me to love" and "God made me to help others" from Sunday School. We are praying that these little seeds will remain in her heart and blossom into the beautiful young lady she will be someday!
First Day of Preschool

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Stone

I recently came across this blog post from www.fourplusanangel.com, Jessica puts this in to words so perfectly I feel that sharing it verbatim is the best way to share:

The best way I can describe grieving over a child as the years go by is to say it’s similar to carrying a stone in your pocket.
When you walk, the stone brushes against your skin. You feel it. You always feel it. But depending on the way you stand or the way your body moves, the smooth edges might barely graze your body.
Sometimes you lean the wrong way or you turn too quickly and a sharp edge pokes you. Your eyes water and you rub your wound but you have to keep going because not everyone knows about your stone or if they do, they don’t realize it can still bring this much pain.
There are days you are simply happy now, smiling comes easy and you laugh without thinking. You slap your leg during that laughter and you feel your stone and aren’t sure whether you should be laughing still. The stone still hurts.
Once in a while you can’t take your hand off that stone. You run it over your fingers and roll it in your palm and are so preoccupied by it’s weight, you forget things like your car keys and home address. You try to leave it alone but you just can’t. You want to take a nap but it’s been so many years since you’ve called in “sad” you’re not sure anyone would understand anymore or if they ever did.
But most days you can take your hand in and out of your pocket, feel your stone and even smile at its unwavering presence. You’ve accepted this stone as your own, crossing your hands over it, saying “mine” as children do.
You rest more peacefully than you once did, you’ve learned to move forward the best you can. Some days you want to show the world what a beautiful memory you’re holding. But most days you twirl it through your fingers, smile and look to the sky. You squeeze your hands together and hope you are living in a way that honors the missing piece you carry, until your arms are full again.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

#MomAndKids2016

Plotting
She can't believe we've been keeping the S'more experience from her all these years!!
So much for staying outside of the cones
We are once again clean and resting indoors after another successful Mom and Kids camp out! It was fun and, as always, ironically exhausting and refreshing at the same time. I'm already planning for next year, Salmon La Sac anyone?? (Sorry the photos are so crazy all over the page, I'm too tired to care)
Marshmallows!

Early morning chats with Grandma at the campfire



He's looking too old!!



Morning hot chocolate






Until next time...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Waiting for Montana

She has to see Sweetie once a month. It is the only time I get to ask questions and be in touch because I can't get a response through emails or by phone. So I wait until the month is almost over, and I know she will contact me to set up a "health and safety visit." Her social worker, Sweetie's "legal guardian" sees her once a month for 15-45 minutes. And then she is gone. It's not a great system, but it's the system we are in. Today I was able to confirm, Sweetie's plans have started to come together for her to move to Montana. The interstate contract has been established and one other form is in the works...but there are no updates on that piece.

I'm torn, I feel the hole beginning to form. I knew it would come but it doesn't really make it easier. Don't think that it means she will be moving this week or even in the next month, the social services system doesn't move that fast, but I think she WILL be moving. This has always been the plan, but then there was a hiccup and we began to think that she may not be able to live there...I dared to hope we might adopt her. Daniel and I agreed that if it came down to it, we would adopt her. Mentally I started to reform my thoughts of our future, of our family's future. Again, I started to feel that our family was complete. In my mind it would be best for her too, to stay here where she is attached rather than move again to essentially live with strangers, albeit technically relatives.

Of course life will be easier with "just two." I think I will look back and see one more time how God's timing is perfect. Maybe she will move just as we are getting busy with building the house. Our transition to a different house will be easier with a family of four instead of a family of five. But easier isn't always better. And thinking about her moving is hard. I know it's hard for her too, as her preschool mind tries to make sense of it all. Capper makes plans to "drive out and pick you up when I'm old enough to drive" so that they can visit. She just gets quiet.

As I mentioned, Sweetie and Capper do everything together, there will be a big hole when she moves. We will miss her and she will miss us. I struggle thinking about how she will feel and how she feels now. It is hard to live in limbo, but the longer she is here the more secure she feels. We have been in touch with her future parents, she talks to them and performs for them on Facetime. We all get along. Living with them is also a good option and I believe she will still do well there. But nonetheless it will be a big change for her. She will have to adjust to new routines, new surroundings, even new weather. How will Capper do? Will he have to grieve the loss of another sister? And myself, I try to trust in his statement that, "I know the plans I have for you..." (Jeremiah 29:11). I remind myself of the countless times I've looked back and thought, "Man I would not have done it that way, but God's plans were so much better than mine. Why did I doubt the process?"

So through the process we go. And for today we will have fun and live summer. And as for tomorrow, well it comes back AGAIN to, I will trust.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Royal Summer Fun List 2016

I'm finally remembering to post this, we've already done quite a few things and more!



Strawberry Picking
River
Canoe
Seattle Aquarium
Vinegar and Soda
SFFT Camping
Belfair Camping
Hawk Creek
Sports Camp
ABC Days
Potty Train Evelyn
Michael’s Craft
Squirt Gun Painting
Water Balloon Fight
Fishing
Paper Plate Flowers
Candy Ball
Train Evelyn
Pajama/Popcorn/Movie Day
Bowling
Make Ice Cream
1$ Movie
Blueberry Picking
Ames Lake
Home Depot Craft
Giant Ice Cube
Ice Cream Sundae Party
Dollar Store
Pool Noodle Obstacle Course
GIANT Bubbles
Star Fort
Playdough Activity Mats
Egg Carton Creatures
Review AWANA Verses
Sprinkler
Friends BBQ
Fall City Days
Seattle Waterfront
Mom and Kids Camping
Sticky Ickies
Pick Apples
Seattle Water Park
North Bend Cinema
Ride a Ferry
Jubilee Farm
Marshmallow Sculptures
Facepaint
Blue Heron
Small Fryes Shakes






Slurpees
Sleepover at Grandma A’s
Fox Island Beach
Catch Bugs
Have a Snocone
Make Ice Cream
Shaving cream Twister
Shaving Cream clouds
Can stilts
Bubble snake
Tin can lanterns
Fireworks shirts
Bubble art
Library Reading Program
S’mores
Slip-n-Slide

Hike

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Days I Need Chocolate

I slept through my alarm. It was 6:55 and I launched out of bed when I realized I was hearing the sound of kids talking...the night before I wondered if an hour of alone time was enough before their "alarm" turned green at 7:00 signaling the privilege of leaving their room. Now I had 5 minutes. I didn't make it far before I heard their door open, at least I had splashed water on my face and prayed a quick prayer, a far stretch from the "quiet time" I had planned on

That's how the day started. Today we worked on the letter "B" we at blueberry bagels and blew up a BIG ball (yes, big enough to ride inside). I brought the 4's to their last day of Sports Camp at the community center and had some much-needed socialization with a friend while her two littles and my one little played...or took toys from each other...one of the two. I made three meals and two snacks. I tried to teach them to take turns and to share. I invited the neighbor and her kids over (probably more for me than for the kids'). I tended to my chickens and I took out the trash. I mediated and loved. I read a book (but not two). I worked with the preschool to deal with the stressful process of finding somewhere that both my biological and foster child can go. I communicated with the social worker. I'm sure I did more. I planned to ask my husband for help tonight, some help cleaning the house because I just couldn't do it all. But he was not feeling well and he needed rest. And he had already played with the kids while I set the table and he had already worked all day and read a bedtime story.

And do you know what? At the end of the day I was yelled at. I was screamed at. It sure would have been easier if I didn't make Capper go to the bathroom before he went to bed. It might have been easier if I let Evelyn do whatever she wanted. But I didn't. And it was hard. And Daniel was frustrated because by the time he gets home from work we are all tired and a little crabby. And I was frustrated because sometimes it feels like no matter how much I pour in, they still want more. It's never enough. And at the end of the day I sit. And I can sit and be frustrated (and sometimes I do). Or I can sit and know that I am enough. That I blow up at my kids sometimes. I act selfishly and I'm downright mean to my husband and my kids sometimes. But I am enough. I am doing the best I can and that is what they need.

All this isn't to tell you that I'm doing a perfect job. I'm not. All this isn't to seek your commendation. It isn't. But all this is to remind myself that I am doing my best. And one day I'll look back on these years and miss them. I almost miss them already watching these littles grow up before my eyes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Can we start the countdown!?!?

There have been many times when planning to build our house has felt like one step forward and two steps back. If it were exclusively up to me, I would have given up a long time ago! But we have finally made TWO steps forward and only ONE step back! One month ago (five and a half weeks actually) we submit our final well and septic plan along with our application for a building permit to the county. As you may recall, it's not the first time we have submit a well and septic plan and each plan requires quite a bit of legwork, land studies, and of course money. However this plan was different; it was the most illogical plan yet but pretty much our last resort. But do you know what? It was approved!!! We were granted 6 weeks to establish a new well for our neighbors freeing up our property. After their new well is hooked up, we will drill our own well on our own property. Commence forward step.

The drill rig has been working on the new well for a couple weeks now, unfortunately the backwards step is that the drilling has had to go twice as deep as hoped. We think it is getting close and hope to find water soon!

The next step forward is that the county accepted our petition to "expedite" our building permit. That means we will be paying extra for them to work overtime. It means that they will complete our permit within 5 weeks! We are 2 1/2 weeks in to that expedited period. Could it be that we will begin actual CONSTRUCTION before the end of summer!?!

This forward progress has given us the boost to start making more decisions and that feels exciting! We are considering this for the house colors. We chose blue. We had a lot of crazy looks. But what do you think? The roof will be grey metal and the two sides will be shingled. We might paint the shingled portion another color if there is too much blue. We also may do white trim. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Kodiak


We had planned this trip since this past winter, we wanted to go before Evelyn turns 2 in July (lap infant anyone??)...but when we found out Sweetie would be staying with us more than the original 30 days, we put our plans on hold. Eventually I talked to the social workers and was able to make a plan for her to go stay with some of her biological family members who hope to adopt, she would have an extended visit with them which would be good for the transition and wouldn't leave her feeling left out. We were all excited about our respective plans until 3 days before the trip...plans fell through with her visit. Her social worker put in a request for respite care. It was frustrating and felt very unfair, I wasn't about to leave her, but we RARELY plan big vacations and we were really looking forward to it. Even if a respite family was found in time, she would still end up feeling very left out and to a four year old this was huge. I could see it having lasting effects. I started to pray. I started making phone calls and putting pressure on anyone in authority. I sent out an email with the urgent need for prayer, either for her to be able to see her family or come on our trip...and do you know what? She came. The area supervisor for the county said she had never seen this happen, for a trip to be approved and paid for, for everything to happen so quickly. She was shocked. I wasn't, and neither was God.

First glimpse of Kodiak Island
There were a few tears from Sweetie when I told her that her plans had changed (and much excitement from Capper!) but she recovered quickly and almost acted relieved once she was over the initial shock. We finished our ice cream and went home to tell Daniel. The next night I worked a 12.5 hour night shift to be followed by a quick nap, then a 2 hour drive to show our rental house to prospective tenants, then a drive home to finish packing and a quick sleep before leaving again...this time on a series of flights to the island of Kodiak Alaska. It hasn't slowed down much since then. Well it has and it hasn't at the same time. Our vacation was AWESOME! It was busy in a good way, a fun vacation way. We didn't get much fishing in (though we "caught" plenty of freezer salmon from my uncle's seriously packed freezer!) but did obsessively collected a couple pounds of sea glass...it's easier to be on a beach than a boat with kids anyway.

We were told we must be "really good people" because the weather in Kodiak was so nice. Per my uncle's 70+ year old neighbor, "I can only remember once or twice since we moved here that we've had weather like this."

So here is our trip, in photo form.
I was a little tired on the plane but thankfully my girls were too
Baby beach feet 
One of our many tidepool finds (we later found and even TINIER sea star)


More tidepooling


Seaweed to snack on


Hike

"Cheeeese!"

Tidepooling

MILLIONS of snails! Gross.



Sea lion wave

Sea lion Harem

2 Adults, 4 kids, 6 lifejackets! And nobody even got wet!



The view from the living room

We didn't get to see any LIVE Kodiak bears but saw multiple taxidermy ones!

Just in time for Crab Festival

Coast Guard rescue swimmer demonstration at Crab Festival

The rescue swimmer
This is what I think of fishing
This is what 4 year olds think of fishing (both 4's pictured)


Sweetie will touch, Capper will observe

We had a few days of "typical" Kodiak weather


The harbor
On my uncle's boat
In the fish hold on the boat
 

They now spend more time getting along than they do quarreling

Beach play


Island life, rhubarb grows abundantly but apples are pricey!
Prepping salmon to smoke
Even one year olds can collect seaglass

Addicted to beachcombing, even after bedtime
The final seaglass collection


Looks more like Hawaii
Daniel was supervising this adventure
Goodbye Alaska...until next time