Saturday, September 19, 2015

placements 2 and 3


September 14th was the day that chris and I decided we were going back on The List to get a new foster babe. in case you aren't familiar with The List, and how foster babes typically show up at your house, here's a little run down of what you can expect:

-you tell your agency what you want. for us, we are just looking to foster newborn babies-3month olds.
-when their office opens, at about 9am, you start getting calls regarding kids that fit your age range. they tell you as much as they know about that kid, and you can say yes or no to that kid. and even if you say yes, it doesn't mean that child is definitely showing up at your door. when we went on the list over a year ago to get J, I said yes to about 6 babies, and none of them showed up.
-your agency sends your name to DCS (department of child safety) and then DCS tries to match up all the 'yeses' that all the different agencies came back with, to find the closest family (location wise) to where the baby was taken from. so, again, a lot of the babies that I got calls for a year ago, were in way north and west phoenix, and surrounding cities. not close to us.
-then DCS calls you back if you are the family they picked for a particular kid, and then they arrange to have that kid's case manager call you about all the other details.
-and then the kid shows up at your house and you get to take care of them until it's time for them to leave.

so, we were pretty certain that we wanted to go back on the list on the 14th. but then we had friends staying with us on Tuesday night before they were going to drive across the country to live in South Dakota. I did not feel great about the idea of having a brand new foster babe screaming through the night while I had guests staying at my house who needed a really good night's rest... and then chris had a physical fitness test on Wednesday morning, and he really needed to get a good night's rest too, so it looked like it would make the most sense for us to wait to go on the list on Wednesday morning, not Monday morning. but chris and I rarely do things that make sense.

we were officially on the list Monday morning, and we got a call at about 10:30 regarding a little two week old boy who needed a home. we were all about it! we drove to target to get some formula and size one diapers, and went and picked him up. my sweet cousin dropped off a ton of baby gear that we didn't realize we really needed - like a swing and lots of clothes. he went through five outfits in his first 24 hours with us! he was a sweet, skinny, little guy with the longest fingers and biggest feet you ever did see on a baby. this kid is Definitely going to be a pro athlete one day. or a clown. we had a fantastic time with him. he ate every two hours- even in the middle of the night, and we realized that a full night's sleep was no longer something we should ever hope to attain ever again.

and then Tuesday evening happened. we were out for dinner with our friends when I got a call from someone saying they wanted to come and see the baby. I thought it was the case manager, and I told him that we wouldn't be home for another hour or two. he said that was fine and would meet us at our house. so when we got home, this guy shows up and we get to talking. turns out there was a MASSIVE communication break down and that our little baby would be going back to his mom and dad immediately. I was very happy that this baby would be reunite with his family- cause that's why we do what we do- so kids can be with their families; but I was so surprised that we only had our second placement for about 33 hours! the kids said bye to him, and topher broke down into hysterical tears. he was so sad that this sweet baby came and stayed with us for such a short while, and he could not understand why we would never see this baby again. I guess topher is ok with being a foster family as long as we stay in touch with EVERYSINGLECHILD that walks across our threshold. sorry son, that's just not going to be able to happen.

so the baby went home and we ended up having no babies in our house Tuesday night. SO our friends, and chris, got a quiet, and full night's rest! can you believe that?!?!?!? it was exactly what I wanted, but it manifested itself in such a different way than I could have ever tried to orchestrate myself. Good one God. good one.

so we went back on The List the next day and got a call for a little days old baby. at a week old, he had already been with us for more than half of his life. it's so crazy. I am so very very happy that he is here with us. he is juicy, cute, lazy (I think he sleeps 23 hours a day), and all around perfect. the kids LOVE having him here, and are constantly wanting to hold him. everything is so great, except that it breaks my heart into a million pieces that someone could walk away from their beautiful, perfect, and precious baby. but I say that without judgment, because I do not know this baby's parents and the lives that they have lived. I am just praying for them to be able to change their ways so that they can give this baby the chance he deserves to be successful in life. and I also pray that if they aren't going to ever change their ways, then that they would be gracious enough to sever their rights soon so that this baby can go to an adoptive home that would love to lavishly love this little baby as their own. but until any of that happens, we are enjoying this baby, and being a family of 6 again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Look into Wendy's Playbook.



A few years ago, my sweet friend was watching the news while hanging out at home. they asked some random trivia question, to which she knew the answer- so she called in and won a WHOLE YEAR'S WORTH OF FREE ICE CREAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That was the coolest contest any of my friends or loved ones had ever won.

UNTIL last week.

So, as you all know, I really did totally and truly win the Wendyslookbook + Marissa Webb + Banana Republic contest. And I really did have a truly exceptionally awesomely wonderful time.

On Wednesday afternoon I flew from Phoenix to New York (ok ok. I flew into New Jersey. That does not sound as glamorous! But Banana Republic did arrange to have a very nice Black SUV pick me up and drive me to my hotel in Greenwich Village. There we go, the glamour is back.) I had 4 and a half hours to myself on an airplane. So I picked up the latest copy of InStyle and devoured it in between taking a nap, and drinking copious amounts of coke and water. Getting to the pages of who is where and leads which fashion brand read like a press release after a trade dead line. It was riveting. Peter Copping at Oscar De La Renta after years at Louis Vuitton and Nina Ricci, Julien Dossena at Paco Rabanne who came from Balenciaga, Nadege Vanhee-Cybulski at Hermes who came from the Row and Celine.

Then on the way home, I read 'The American Way', the free magazine they had in my back seat pocket. And I devoured that as well. It helped that Marshawn Lynch was on the cover, and he's my boy cause he helped me to win 2nd place in my fantasy football pool last year which made me a 12,500 cents richer at the end of the season. In the rare interview with Mr. Beast Mode himself, they described Lynch as "a model for how the game should be played: passionately, fiercely, unrelentingly." (Jan Hubbard) I saw that this week in New York watching Wendy Nguyen and Marissa Webb working their magic at fashion week!

Maybe you already know Wendy and are a part of her massive online following. She has over 400,000 Facebook friends, 700,000 Instagram followers, thousands of YouTube subscribers, and I have no idea what her numbers are on Twitter and SnapChat cause I refuse to join those communities. I have kids who need me to pay attention to them too people. Gotta limit my social media community and screen time. Anyway, if you don't know her- Wendy is in this elusive club of being a legitimately amazing fashion blogger. I follow her on Instagram as she posts pictures of herself in perfectly tailored outfits, toe numbingly high heels, fluttering her thick, gorgeous, albeit fake, lashes. But her lashes are the only thing that are fake about her.

I was SOoOoO excited to meet Wendy, but i wasn't sure what it would be like to actually hang out with her. All Weekend Long. But it was like visiting an old friend. We talked, we laughed, we ate brussel sprouts EVERY time they were on the menu, we shared food, and stories about our lives, and marveled at the points that intersected, as well as the points that were on polar opposite ends of the spectrum.

Wendy gets free clothes and shoes for making them look amazing. Which is not hard to do when you have size four feet because you are four feet and 11 3/4 inches 'tall' and you have the face of a beautifully sculpted doll. I, on the other hand, am going to start getting free formula from WIC for our foster baby. But this was not as isolating a point as one might think. Wendy has been in the foster system and she knows what it's like to live without parents whose main purpose it is to take care of their children and love them and cherish them, as most of the 18,000 kids in Arizona's Foster system can relate to. But that's not a stumbling block for her. It's not an excuse she uses to prevent her from succeeding.  It's one of the many forces that has driven her to the success that she is presently enjoying. Yes Wendy has a YouTube channel and is all over social media, but what you may not know about her is that she has a non-profit organization reaching out to girls in the system, and she wants to encourage and empower them. She also has a t-shirt line that she is trying to grow that will be both fiscally and environmentally responsible. And also adorable. Successful, gorgeous, creative, smart, and environmentally friendly?!?!? She even drives a Prius for the love! It would be so easy to hate her, but only if you didn't actually know her.

 My preconceived notions that fashion bloggers are narcissists with amazing clothes and a serious knack for taking great selfies was crushed this weekend. Watching Wendy and a few of her close fashion blogging friends brooklynblonde and 9to5chic talk about which cameras and lenses and editing programs they use, was fascinating. I had NO IDEA what they were talking about, but they spoke with such knowledge and enthusiasm, and were sharing ideas instead of hoarding information so they could all improve (community over competition!!!!! I don't know if showit.com started that hashtag, but I know the showiteers use it a lot and it's so great!).

I also got to meet Nina, who works with Wendy as her graphic designer, and photographer, and who knows what else. Nina (who also has a blog: citizensrunway) is from Toronto of all places, and we share a serious love for the same greasy Chinese food restaurants. Less than 6 degrees of separation from Rol San! I watched Nina and Wendy take pictures for their blog, and it was eye opening to see how hard they work to come up with the beautiful images that I (and probably you too) take for granted on my Instagram feed.




I feel so very privileged to have also been able to meet Marissa and shake her hand and hug her and even do spicy tequila shots with her this weekend. She went from having her Spring/Summer '16 runway show on Thursday, to having to get ready for Banana Republic's presentation (like a runway show- only the models stand in place and don't really move for an hour) for Saturday. Needless to say- she was VERY busy. but I loved watching her interact with her team at runway show, as well as at Banana Republic. This woman is a fierce leader who knows how to get things done! And done with style and swagger! I wanted to talk to her more about her having been adopted, and about her time at J Crew, and about bacon cheeseburgers, and her fiancé, and her family. but then she would have been scared by how much I already knew about her from stalking her on Google. so I tried to just smile and not look too crazy...

ALL these women that I met this weekend, much like my Marshawn, are truly passionate, fierce, and unrelenting in their fashion, and blogging businesses!




I'll write more about my trip in the next post, but I just wanted to dedicate this one to Wendy who made #jihaedoesnewyork so very much more than just a quick weekend getaway, but an experience that I will remember (and TALK ABOUT VERY OFTEN) for the rest of my life!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

#jihaedoesnewyork day half

today was such a s fantastic day!

1. i went to the phyisical therapist today and they are getting me started on not having a janky back! (Cindy's word. not mine. cause im not white.) but while i was there, i got a text from Wendy!!!! it was like getting a text from a unicorn or something equally magical and almost unbelievable (you like how i said almost? i watch a lot of princess movies so i am beginning to think that they must exist.)
2. my precious hubby took me, mia, and our sweet 3 year old nephew who stayed the night last night, out for brunch. (and after i left, chris handled having 4 kids like a rockstar. he is such a stud!)
3. he dropped me off at the airport and i wasn't late or at the wrong terminal, things that normally happen to me when i travel.
4. today was no ads on pandora day! so i was able to stand in a very long security line, listening to my Jay-Z  pandora station with no interruptions!
5. i took a nap on the plane! cause i was flying BY MYSELF! i didn't have to take care of anyone! it was glorious! and then i read over 500 pages of the fall fashion issue of InStyle magazine- cause no one wanted to talk to me and no one needed any fruit snacks or to be taken to the potty.
6. i arrived in new jersey and got picked up in a pimpin black Yukon by the nicest driver ever. we chatted about his two little girls and his family back in pakistan. gotta admit i was a little afraid of being abducted but was very happy to arrive at my hotel safely AND quickly!
7. my hotel room is ADORABLE! and i got to watch Jimmy Fallon and Ellen Degeneres lip sync battle while being in the same city as them! FUN!
8. there was an envelope waiting for me when i got here and it was a lovely gift card from Banana Republic, giving me some spending money for food and travel while i'm here. do these people know how to put a contest together or what?!?!?!?!?

I LOVE YOU BANANA REPUBLIC! AND WENDYSLOOKBOOK! AND MARISSA WEBB!

praising Jesus for this ridiculously amazing time!

it's 1:30am here. so i am going to sleep now. cause there's a strong chance tomorrow is going to be EVEN MORE FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

this is bananas

I am and am not a lucky person. I am so lucky to be married to chris, who is possibly the NICEST guy in the world. I am so lucky to have three beautiful babes, because I know from the experience of too many that are close to me, that getting pregnant, and staying pregnant, and walking away from the hospital with a healthy baby- is an ABSOLUTE miracle. I am lucky to be alive, cause I've done some dumb stuff in my life that definitely could have killed me (like texting and driving.)

But I am not lucky in that I have never won the lottery, I don't get chosen to win a $20 gift card to target no matter how many times I fill out their bloody surveys! i'm not a winner. if that makes me a loser, i'm a happy one at least.

BUT. this week, I entered a contest. and I won. I think.

here's something you may or may not know about me. I love clothes. a lot. when I was in fifth grade, I was the 'school' (I don't think anyone else but me ever read it) newspaper editor. the paper was in French. and I think there were three pages. maybe four? anyhow, I wrote most of the articles, and my favorite was when I did a fashion makeover for my teacher. in pencil crayon drawings. she loved it, and so did I.

nothing ever blossomed from that love of fashion and elementary journalism, besides reading all the fashion magazines at my mom's convenience store, and eventually working at ICE, a tiny store in Toronto, that eventually became KITSON (you probably are familiar with this store if you live in California. they're all over the place.) but that's the place where I fell in love with Kate Spade, Bumble and Bumble, Philosophy products, Seven jeans (man they make your butt look good! totally worth $200 if you have that lying around), and many other products and brands that I would read about in those fashion magazines at my mom's store. I loved it all. I didn't need any of it. but it was all so beautiful.

now, as a stay at home mom in Arizona, I have even less exposure to those fun and fancy things. I wear flip flops and super cheap clothes. most of my gear is from target, old navy, forever 21, H&M and the occasional super cheap gem from tj maxx, or even Nordstrom rack. i am very content with what i have. i do however DREAM of having fancier and nicer things- and that's the beauty of INSTAGRAM.

i have a shared facebook account with chris. it's for us to stay connected to friends and family. i have an Instagram account for me. i follow my friends on there, and some brands/companies that i love, and then my imaginary fancy friends. for some reason, my fancy friends are all Asian. that's sheer coincidence. i love Chriselle of the Chriselle Factor, Aimee Song of Song of Style, and Marissa Webb who has her own line and is the creative director of www.bananarepublic.com, and Wendy of  www.wendyslookbook.com. the ladies are on a different level of glamour and fancy awesomeness, but still relatable in their honest struggles and vulnerability. Marissa is adopted Korean, and Wendy is a former foster kid. See? real and relatable. that's why we're friends. even if they don't know it yet.

so, Wendy and Marissa teamed up with an insane contest on Wendy's blog last week. all you had to do was comment and they would pick a winner at random. you didn't have to like five other instagrammers, you didn't have to tag five friends. you just entered and you were done. i actually almost forgot i entered.

UNTIL MY LIFE CHANGED when i opened my gmail to find an email from none other than WENDY! and then another email from someone at gap/banana republic asking for my personal info (not my ssn or bank account info!!!!!) so they could set up my flight. CRAZY, RIGHT!!????!?!?

so, i feel like i am dreaming, and i don't want to wake up. if this is all legit and i really totally and truly won this contest, then i will be flying to New York, going to the marissa webb show, shopping at banana republic, and going to the banana republic presentation at New York fashion week.

who would have ever thought that this could or would happen to the likes of little old (both adjectives are seriously on point at this point in my life) ME!???!?

and even though i can't take anyone on this trip with me- i am taking YOU along with me! unless of course i didn't really win. in which case, i will proceed with my life, and wait to read about someone else's experience in InStyle magazine next month.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

see ya laters

two weeks and three days ago, we brought J to her new permanent home. back with her brothers and sister and a kinship placement that we feel is pretty safe. we dropped off our girl with suitcases, bags, and bins of stuff and said our "see ya laters". and then we went and had Korean food. and it was all so good. and anti climactic.

some might call me stoic, others may see it as heartless- but i'm not a crier. when chris and I were dating in korea and he left me to come back to Arizona, I didn't cry at the airport. he and I said our "see ya laters" in front of a bunch of our friends and my sister, and chris caught his plane and the rest of us got back into jon sim's car and went home. and the talk of the town after that was that people thought I liked chris a lot, but after seeing my coolness in action at the airport, thought otherwise. but even though I didn't cry, my heart was absolutely, undeniably, utterly broken.

so needless to say- I didn't cry when I left our little girl, who we had loved and tolerated for over a year, with her family. I was scared for her. I have worried about her and thought about her daily. but I have not cried for her.

tonight, after not seeing her for two weeks and three days, the longest period of time that we have gone without seeing J in over a year, we got to take her out for dinner and ice cream.

it was amazing.

and strange and crazy.

and I even cried a bit.

I don't remember going on a second date with chris, but driving to pick J up today felt a lot like a second date, where you aren't entirely sure if the first date went well or not. did I make a good first impression? was there a connection there? would the other person be happy to see me or not? I had no idea what to expect. which is the truest tagline for foster parents if ever there was one.

so, we drove up to J's house. I could already hear some hustling and bustling behind the screen door. J's guardian opened the door, we hugged, said our hellos, and there was J, standing there, so shy, so pretty, and slowly she said: "mommy!"

I scooped her up in my arms even though it felt like she had punched me in the gut. I actually think I would have preferred for her to say: "hey you asshole! where have you been for the last two weeks?" so, she still thinks I am her mom, and that chris is her dad, and that we've left her at this other house, with these people she knows, but has- in her mind, never lived with before. I felt like such a negligent parent, even though I know in my right mind that I am not.

the power also went out at her house due to last night's crazy storm. J's guardian told me they haven't had electricity since 7pm yesterday. yes it's September, but it's still SO HOT here. the thought of J sleeping in this HOT house, through absolutely no fault of her guardian's, broke my heart. it made me so sad for her. everything makes me so sad for her.

things got worse at dinner. we had pizza and wings and were having a great time. as we were winding down and waiting for topher to finish his chicken wing, that he was practically making out with, J sat on chris' lap and said: "dad. go home." sucker punch number two. that wasn't a "dad, why don't you go home. get out of here" statement. it was a "dad. take me home." statement. it was heavy. and chris, being the awesome man that he is, said: "let's go have ice cream at mc donalds!"

this foster game is so strange. and I realize it's not a game. it's children's lives. but it feels like a game sometimes. a game that has no rules and lots and lots of moving parts and chutes and ladders and winners and far too many losers.

we survived our first year in the foster care system. it was a glorious, and very taxing one. my kids were absolute rock stars during the whole thing and they, like me, did not cry when we dropped little J off that day. but it's probably cause we tried to explain the rules of this game to them early on: children will come, we will love them, and there will come a time when they will go. and that's what happened with J. but since she has left, mia has asked about her everyday, and at bed time or dinner when we talk about our favorite thing and our not-favorite thing from the day, she has said that she misses J. every day. for the last 17 days. lily has told her aunt elisa that when she sees pictures of J or sees her name written somewhere (topher had a math problem with J's name in it! pretty amazing cause her name is not very common) that she gets choked up and misses J and sometimes even cries a bit. topher says he misses J on occasion. he's a true dude. he doesn't talk about his feelings much.

so, maybe none of us watsons are criers. but it doesn't mean we aren't feelers. we get all the feels. when we dropped J off at home after our night out, I was afraid she was going to cry, and cause a scene, and want to come home with us. but her family was just coming home and there was much excitement and talking, and she was back in her guardian's loving arms, and we said our "see ya laters", and got in the car and drove back home with dry, stoic eyes.