Sunday, August 22, 2010

Massive Update

Sydney Kaye is 6 months old! She has become such a Daddy's girl lately. Of course, she still loves her momma, but if Clint is around, she watches his every move. And, of course, Clint is absolutely adding fuel to the fire by holding her a lot and giving her tons of attention :)

At six months, Sydney is:
  • sitting up well.
  • doing great with her tummy time. Not much longer before she tries to scoot!
  • loving baby food. We've made our way through all the vegetables and we've moved on to fruit!
  • Has two teeth as of this morning! She has been teething a lot over the past couple of weeks, and today we found the evidence!
  • surviving day care. I think she gets used to it a little more every day.
  • making spitting noises constantly. She thinks it's hilarious.
  • Laughing occasionally. It had better be pretty darn funny.

Jack loves Rodys. If you're not familiar with them, they are these blow-up horses that you can ride around. I tried to buy one for him last Christmas, but they are $75!!! No way. But, our local toy store, Purple Cow, is having a moving sale and put them on sale for $22. Jack thinks Rody is REAL! He rides him all around the house, sleeps with him, and sets him in the bathroom while he bathes or potties. Best $22 I ever spent.

Jack/Sydney room merger:
They spent last night in the same room and both took a nap in the room today! I was afraid that Jack wouldn't like for Sydney to be in his space, but I couldn't have been more wrong. He loves for his little sister to be in his room. The space is just right. Maybe a little tight, but once Sydney can sleep in a twin bed we'll buy bunk beds and they'll have more room to play. Jack rarely plays in his room anyway...he drags all his toys into the living room. Ha!

Foster Furniture:
Melissa Herrington has been working on some furniture for our foster care room. They brought the furniture today and it is SO PERFECT!!! The dresser is the perfect size for a child. Enough storage room without taking up a whole wall. Also, it is a short piece of furniture, so a short kid could see themself in the mirror. I am so pleased with the results! Now we just need to paint the walls (yuck!) and do a little decorating. The mattress set can be picked up on Thursday. Things are really starting to become real with this whole foster care decision. Today in the sermon, Dr. Brooks said that the most-quoted commandment in the Bible is to not be afraid. I needed to hear that this morning!

This was the toy box in Jack's room, but it wasn't very efficient in storing toys. I didn't want to get rid of it, so we found a spot off of our kitchen and got these great pillows on clearance at Target. It also gives us extra seating in the kitchen for when we have company over.

Calvary Woodworth:
Calvary Baptist Church merged with First Baptist Woodworth on June 1st. It was a huge decision for our church and we have been so excited to see the Lord move in our community! At the end of May, they had 18 in worship on a Sunday morning, and no youth in Sunday School. This morning we had well over 200...they filled up the sanctuary and brought in chairs. And we had 19 in youth Sunday School. What an amazing morning!!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Jack/Sydney Room Merger

Jack and Sydney will be sharing a room and Sydney's nursery will become the foster care room. We'll be getting the furniture next week from my friend Melissa. I can't wait to see it!!

Turning Sydney's nursery into the foster care room has possibly been one of the hardest parts of this whole decision for me! I spent so much time planning, decorating, and shopping for my little girl's nursery. I keep reminding myself that in the huge scheme of eternity, pink nurseries are so minor. "Set your mind on things above..." So far I've held my emotions together, but when we paint over the pink walls the tears might start to flow. Ha!

We got rid of the recliner and bookcase in Jack's room, which left half the room empty. Today we'll move in Sydney's furniture and tonight they'll be sleeping in the same room. Scary!!!

Once we get everything finished, I'll post more pictures, but this is what we've gotten done for now!

First, we got both of their things in one closet. All of their outgrown clothes went to the attic, and I got baskets for Sydney's "to-be-grown-into" clothes for the top of the closet. Sydney's drawers fit in nicely, and I don't feel that the closet is chaotic at all!

Secondly, we moved Jack's toy chest to the foster care room. It will store extra bedding and toys for that child at the foot of his/her twin bed. We bought these cubical things at Lowe's and the baskets to go with them. All of the toys fit very nicely we still have plenty of extra room in them! Clint and Jack have been collecting nature items over the past couple of years. We have never had a place to display all of the turtle shells, bird wings, beaver sticks, and cool pinecones, but now we do, and they're out of Jack's reach! I love the way this turned out.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Last Week of Summer!

We have tried to soak up this last week of summer. I didn't take nearly enough pictures, though. I have been home since February, and it doesn't seem real that my time to go back to work is here!

How do I feel about that, you ask?

Ask me next week.

Right now, I'm pretty pumped to get back in a routine and teach teenagers every day. I've seen my rosters and I have some great kids this year! I really do love high school students. They are hilarious, even when they don't know it!

Today Jack, Sydney, and I went to day care and met their teachers. Jack was excited to see his friends from last year and his teachers are wonderful. Sydney, on the other hand, is severely attached to her momma and will have a hard time. We'll get through it, though!

Soooo...for our last week of summer.....

Monday: Ate at Little Cakes. Jack wanted a brown cupcake with snow (translation: chocolate with coconut)

Tuesday: Played at Jump 'n Jive with Emma Walker.

Wednesday: Drove to DeRidder and ate lunch with GiGi.
Doesn't Sydney look like such a big girl sitting in the high chair??

Thursday: Got my haircut (boring for kids, necessary for me), checked out our new Sunday School rooms at Calvary Woodworth, and Alice' babysat while Clint and I went to MAPP (foster care) training.

Friday: Went to day care and met the new teachers, went to my school and mingled with some students at freshmen orientation, put together some organizational furniture for the Jack/Sydney room merger (more on that soon), and ate BJ's pizza with Uncle Bill and Aunt Budda.

It's been an awesome six months at home, and I'm looking forward to an incredible school year!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Foster Care: Why We're Doing This

I've been scared to death to post this even though I've had it written for a few weeks. We've shared this with our families and close friends, and now it's time to make it public. Please pray for us as we go through training, home studies, and paperwork. Pray for the child that will come to our home terrified, angry, and in desperate need of a home and a Savior.

Our Story:

Before we met, Clint and I both felt a call to missions. In fact, we both made that decision public before our church families when we were sixteen, before we knew the other existed. At that time, I expected that I would become a foreign missionary. When Clint and I started seriously dating, we made sure that we both were committed to this calling to missions. We had no idea what God had in store for us, but we were determined to follow his leading.

We both served as summer missionaries to South Carolina and worked with underprivileged children. He led backyard Bible schools in the northern part of the state while I led sports camps in the southern region. Maybe that’s where our interest and compassion for children started. Our senior year of college, we drove the church van through the government projects and run-down neighborhoods of Ruston. By the end of the school year, we had 17 children riding the church mini-bus. One of them, Kendrick, gave his life to Christ and was baptized.

Also during our senior year, Clint was offered the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree at Mississippi State University. He would have an assistantship, which would pay for his tuition and allow us a stipend every month. We struggled with this decision, because we had previously made a commitment to missions and didn’t want to do the wrong thing. However, after much prayer, we decided that pursuing a masters in Forestry was the right thing to do and we headed to Starkville, MS.

I got a job at Lee Middle School. It was the most challenging job I can ever imagine. I taught 7th and 8th grade Language Arts. The students at Lee Middle School were low-income and high-maintenance. I learned through many, many mistakes and dealt with some very difficult kids. I knew God was preparing me for something, but I didn’t know what.

We also had our first child, Jack while living in Starkville. Jack is an enormous joy in our lives. From the day he was born, he has been full of energy and never lacking for words. We cannot imagine our lives without him.

In May 2008 Clint finished his master’s degree and landed a job as a forestry consultant in Alexandria, LA. I got a job teaching biology at Alexandria Senior High. We were thrilled to finally be done with school and working a “real job,” but still felt confused about what God was calling us to. We still felt a strong call to missions, but also knew that we were being obedient by accepting the jobs in Alexandria. We prayed fervently that God would reveal himself to us.

And He did.

During summer 2008, God spoke to our hearts about adoption. It was not just a fleeting thought, but a consuming passion that was always on our hearts. We educated ourselves about international and domestic adoption and decided that we would pursue a Rwandan adoption.

Summer 2009 we found out we were expecting again, and Sydney was born in February 2010. Sydney is the sweetest baby, and her smiles absolutely melt our hearts. I am so thankful for a little girl to share my life with. Yet, even in the hospital, I knew our family wasn’t complete.

After Sydney was born we still felt a longing to adopt, but this time we knew God was calling us to something else. He was calling us to full-time orphan care. We weren’t sure what that meant, but it scared both of us! We researched different venues, such as the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home, and the International Mission Board, but the words that kept coming back to mind were “foster care.”

I came up with all kinds of reasons why we shouldn’t do this. And they were good reasons, too! I am working full-time, we have two kids that require all of our attention, we live in a small house, we’re not experienced enough parents. I also had fears. What if they were violent? What if I couldn’t handle their tantrums? What if their biological family was unsafe? What if I can’t give my own children the attention they deserve?

In the end, we had to make a decision: Would we be obedient to the call that God has unmistakably placed on our lives? Or would we give into our fears and going on living our comfortable existence?

We’ve decided to be obedient.

We will be certified foster/adoptive parents for the state of Louisiana in October. We will accept one child, boy or girl, between the ages of pre-K through third grade. Because we have small children, we will not be able to accept a child with major discipline (such as violence, sexual acting-out), major medical, or major psychiatric needs.

Yes, we are scared. Yes, we are crazy.

Yes, we are living in peace because we know that we are being obedient to our heavenly Father. We are excited to see what He is going to do through us. Our prayer is that He will break the cycle of abuse in a generation. Maybe one child will grow to have a healthy family.

Maybe an entire family will give their lives to Christ and be forever changed.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pineywoods 2010

Last year we started an Iles Family tradition of going to Pineywoods Baptist Camp for the first weekend in August. We went last year to celebrate Bro. Curt and Mrs. DeDe's 30th anniversary, and we had such a blast that we quickly scheduled this year's trip.

It's funny how just one year makes such a difference in our growing family! Last year Noah, Jack, and Jude were the only grandchildren. This year we added Sydney and Luke to the crowd! The big boys had a blast swimming in the pool and going down the slide over and over and over. Bro. Curt, Clay, Clint and Terry had a basketball game on Saturday afternoon and Mrs. DeDe, MeMe, Robin, Sara, and I had a great time just visiting and relaxing.

Thursday Bro. Curt took me, Jack, Noah, and Jude to the Wild Azalea Trail to hike to a creek for a wade and a picnic. I love watching little kids in the woods. I think it's so important for them to explore nature and enjoy God's creation. The boys had such a blast picking up pinecones, throwing rocks in the creek, looking for fish, and squealing as the COLD water rushed over their little ankles. They were absolutely filthy and worn out after our three hour excursion!!