Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Peep at the Coops

Last Sunday we made a family outing to the annual Tour of Coops in Dallas.  It's just like a tour of homes, but instead it highlights local chicken coops in their increasingly popular urban setting.  We started out at the Stonewall Gardens Children's Learning Center where we got to visit with some of the students and their colorful variety of friendly chickens.  Rylin loved this!  We picked up our map of coops and set out to tour half of them.  The first three were VERY cool.  One with a run behind the fence next to the ally, another built in Tudor style like the home it was constructed by, and all with beautiful gardens around them.  I was amazed at the creativity these chicken owners displayed in their seemingly small urban back yards.  It really got me inspired.  I love the chicken coop my brother made me and I think it suits us well, but our back yard leaves something to be desired.  I've been doing all I can just to get some grass to grow and with the hap hazard play area that Rylin has, it looks a little blah.  So in the next few months I hope to add in some plants (specifically blackberries, climbing vines, and more herbs) and update Rylin's play area with a little more natural feel.  Sadly, we found out that our big maple tree in the back has to come down so I've devised a table of sorts from the stump that will be left.  We'll have to see how it turns out as I might just end up having it ground up by the landscapers.  Another thing I took away from the tour is that these chickens need some art!  Yes, you read that right.  Almost every coop we toured had art hanging in it.  I thought it was hilarious and added a bit of character, so this week I added a few watercolors to our coop...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

We're Active!

Got the email today that we have our license and are now on the active foster home list for CPS.  We will now await the infamous call.  For those that are interested, here's how it will play out...

CPS coordinates all foster care placements through their Centralized Placement Unit. They operate 24-7, as does our agency. We might get a call in the middle of the night, weekday or weekend.  Placement knows what openings our agency has, as they are required to list all available homes on on the DFPS "Extranet", a secure website. This database lists all of the foster homes currently accepting children at our agency and all the other foster care agencies. When Placement needs a home, they look at what is listed on the Extranet before contacting the foster care agency. If they need one of our agencies homes, they contact them and they contact us.  We have an hour to respond. If we accept the situation, then our profile gets sent to Placement for them to review along with other families they have chosen.  We are then notified if we are selected and the child's case manager will call to arrange time to bring the child to our home.

Quite the process, right?!  We are anxious, but ready.  Praying tonight for us to know the "right" situation for our family and that God equips us for this new chapter.  A lot of people have quoted a certain verse to me as we have struggled through this process, and I have always enjoyed it from The Message translation...

I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.  Jeremiah 29:11
The future we hope for isn't easy and shallow, but challenging and meaningful.  It isn't temporary and insignificant, but beyond our perspective and eternal. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Did I mention we're completely done with diapers?!!  Wowza, am I glad we have potty training behind us.  It was NOT my favorite stage of parenting.  Rylin has been doing great and I am happy to be on to the next adventure.  No, I'm not changing diapers anymore, but I am cleaning the bathroom 1,000 times more!

This week we also completed and passed our second fire safety inspection (whoohoo!) and are now just holding out for our foster care license.  I've sent everything to the agency, but no surprise that we are waiting without any response just yet.  We are getting really good at waiting (I'm almost proud of how patient we've become) and are just going to let things happen when the timing is right.  In the mean time, this sweet boy keeps us entertained and on our toes daily!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Maybe One Day...

I can't believe how long this whole Foster Care process is taking.  It was as if we were zipping on along and then just hit a few road blocks.  After we finally completed our home study, the health inspector completed their check and we only needed the fire marshal to sign off.  We were instructed to let them contact us and after a month I emailed the agency again.  No response.  Then I found out our contact was no longer there.  After another month, I was finally told to contact them myself and then given the number to the wrong city!  I finally got things sorted out and we had our fire inspection two weeks ago...only to find out they were looking for some things that weren't on our list given by the agency.  UGGGGHHH!  So last week I went to purchase another smoke detector (for the closet with the breaker box...making a total of 5 for our 1,800 sq ft house), a 5lb fire extinguisher (apparently 3lb didn't cut it), and moved the gas for the mower onto a high metal shelf in the garage.  The only thing left was an "immovable" fire screen for the fireplace we have never used.  After scouring Craigslist and every home improvement store, I had nothing.  Wrong season to be looking for fireplace accessories it turns out.  I finally found what we needed without spending our last dime at a fireplace specialty store yesterday.  So tonight I am typing up (instead of drawing out) our fire escape plan so that I can hopefully reschedule our fire inspection for Friday or early next week.  Do I sound bitter?  Not really.  Just ready to be done with all of it.  Will we ever be "done with it" when it comes to Foster Care...probably not any time soon! 

Growing Chickens

It dawned on me today that I haven't updated on our four girls in a while.  They have been growing daily and about a month ago were big enough to move into their new coop.  We were still being cautious about letting them out in the yard while Duke was around when one day Jordan forgot and left their coop door open.  When he remembered, he found a crazed bulldog and four frightened with an obvious injury.  Not being a chicken vet, I can only speculate that she badly bruised her breast.  We separated Petunia and it was touch and go for two weeks.  Jordan was literally ready to "axe" her twice and then, as if she heard of his grim plans, she would take a turn for the better.  This week she is finally back to her old self.

Petunia during her daily "rehab".  Balancing on one leg with her wings down.

What can I say?  You get attached to them:)

So other than our injured reserve chicken, the rest of them have been doing great.  I let them out to free range when I'm home (and the doggy door is closed up).  They are quite peculiar and very friendly.  They will pretty much come right up to you and peck around, though some are more outgoing than others.  At night they jump back in the coop and I shut them up.  So far they haven't been a bother to our garden.

One day while the kids were out looking for worms, Francis got curious too!

Looking for snacks.

It will probably be another six weeks before we see our first eggs, but they are keeping us entertained in the mean time.  Love these chickens!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Family Weekend at the Lake

Last weekend we headed to the lake for our annual family weekend.  It rained the entire way there, but after a good dousing, the clouds cleared and it turned out to be a beautiful weekend.

The moms on Mother's Day

The kids, of course, enjoyed the hot tub and got plenty of swimming time in.

 We sat on the deck most of the weekend and lounged around.

Rich and Jenn went for a jog while the rest of us were lazy...

When the kids got warmed up from the hot tub, they jumped in the lake.

 Even Rylin took a turn on the slide.

The guys played a little baseball before Shelby and I went kayaking.

 As the "activities director" I decided to plan a Murder Mystery dinner for us.  We picked a western theme and Saturday night everyone dressed up and got into character.

The kids really got into it, and everyone had a fun time (laughing a lot) and trying to figure out who was going to meet an unfortunate end and who would be the culprit.

In the end it was Papa, aka Wavy Will Bronchos.  He returned from the bathroom in his ghostly getup and wasn't allowed to speak for the rest of the game!  Shelby, aka Abby Oakley turned out to be his killer.

The weekend always goes by too fast, but that's how we know we're having fun!  We are thankful for our family and grateful for our time together.