A “Maybe” House switcheroo!

I haven’t given a house update in a while, mostly because I didn’t know what to say.

We tried to rent a house, as I explained in my last post, but they turned down our application for sketchy reasons (our FCN worker explained that we shouldn’t have put down Caitlin has a foster child, because that makes people run for the hills, depending on the person….my bad 😦 ).

Our “bedbugs” house has been all over the map in terms of timeline. We were told last week that we were set to go and that once the tenants moved out, we could occupy it as a rental. Our fear with that was we wouldn’t have a lot of leverage if anything went wrong in the transaction, (the seller would have the upper hand since he knows we don’t want to move again), and we weren’t getting anything in writing. Then, a week ago, I was told that the bedbug infestation was a lot worse than they thought, and might take multiple treatments and weeks. There was a good possibility we wouldn’t even be in there by the end of the year!

So, I may have had a sobbing meltdown last Friday night. I told Jesse I felt that God had deserted us! Raising a foster child who’s been through a lot is hard enough, but having to do it from afar, while juggling 2 other kids and basically living out of our cars as we go back and forth between my parents’ house and ours? Crazy and insane!

And then, it happened. On Saturday, a short sale that was previously being listed for $291k, just out of our price range, got reduced by $25k, after only 1 week on the market. Jesse knew that this probably meant one thing– the bank was motivated to get it off the books. The listing already stated that one of the lien holders had already approved the purchase price (a major hurdle, if you’re familiar with short sales).

We went to the open house on Monday and LOVED it, despite the funky colors (it’s all maroon and crazy puke orange, with BLACK, I repeat, BLACK baseboards and trim! Who DOES that???). The neighborhood is super cute and well maintained. There is a playground 10 houses down from the house, and even though it has a Paso Robles zip code, it’s in the Templeton school district (a plus for rental or resale value). And, even though it’s not in the same town as our job, it’s only 10 minutes away– 4 exits on the freeway, to be exact.

And….as of a few hours ago, our offer got accepted! We had to beat out someone else, but apparently they liked ours better!

We know it’s a long road ahead, as short sales can be a very difficult, so we could definitely use prayer. Hopefully, an end to this year-long saga/nightmare is in sight!

A picture of the front yard. As you can see, it has a bay window, one of my favorite things!! There is a living room, dining room, AND a family room. Also, the master bedroom has TWO closets!!

Looking like???

Perhaps, our mystery child is finally looking a little bit like his Momma?

Me, year 1986

Anthony, 2012

 

Gregory 2 Year Letter

Dearest boy,

I know that everyone says this, but it is SO HARD for Mommy to believe that you are 2!

But you very much ACT like a two year old. You repeat everything anyone says, you are and have been speaking in complete sentences for a few weeks now, and you are able to do so many things on your own.

In just the past week, your vocabulary has probably tripled, which never ceases to amaze Mommy. It means that you really heard all those things we were saying around you (which we occasionally hoped would go unnoticed!).

And the way you enunciate, with that sweet little-boy voice of yours…melts Mommy’s heart every time. You are really good about saying, “Bye-bye, love you mommy!” when she leaves to teach. You fearlessly attempt words that are really hard, such as “Seventeen” and “Hyena” and the ever-dreaded, “W”. You love the ability to be able to express exactly what it is you want. Most often, you say things like, “Play game, please?” (you’re a fan of “Temple Run”), “Have a stinky in the dipey!”, and “Need Die-Die, please!” (“Die Die” is your pacifier…yes, you still use one!). When you say, “All Done”, you very carefully enunciate every single consonant. It’s adorable!

You also clearly tell us the difference between all your different balls. There is the “Fuht-ball”, the “Bees-ball”, “Backs-ball”, and “Vie-vie-ball”. Sometimes you say, “Orange ball” or “Boo ball” too.

But Mommy’s favorite thing you do….by far, is when you point to yourself and say, “Big Brudder!” and then pat Anthony and say, “Lewww Brudder!”. You love to kiss his tummy and make him laugh. And you know what? It makes Mommy and Daddy laugh too!

You’ve also become very sensitive to Baby Anthony’s crying, and will either run up and try to soothe him (often you’re the first one to the room when he’s woken up crying from a nap!) or you yell “ALLLLL DONNEEEE!!!” right into his face. You yell, “QUIET! HUSH!” at Claire when she barks. All of these things show us that you like your peace and quiet, that’s for sure!

Sometimes when you hug Anthony, he attempts to steal your pacifier!

One of your obsessions right now is going outside with Daddy at night and pointing out every single “Leww STAW!” and then the “BIG MOOOOOON!”. You love to sing nursery rhymes at bedtime with Mommy, including your own rendition of “FAHFAH JOCK JOCK” (Frere Jacques). Often, after we’ve put you to bed, we hear you humming away for quite a while afterwards.

As always, you are still Mommy’s champion sleeper. I have no idea what we did to deserve you, but you go to bed without any soothing, despite the fact that it’s almost always a different time every night (Mommy and Daddy’s schedules have been a bit unpredictable lately!). You often sleep in until 10am (UNHEARD OF FOR A TODDLER!). And then you take a 3+ hour nap 90% of the time! You are just a kid that needs a lot of sleep!

You have an extremely determined and focused personality. When you set your mind on one thing, you obsess about it until it comes to completion. The other day, you really wanted the big orange ball to stay put in the net, so that you could then knock it out with a second ball. Grandpa and Mommy watched you, trying so hard not to laugh, because every time the big ball went through the net instead of catching, you growled or shrieked in frustration. All we need to do is give you a piece of chalk, and you’re consumed for the good part of an hour, covering the entire back patio in scribbles. You also hit the ball off the tee with a TON of force and distance, which is shocking considering how “un-orthodox” your swing is (it’s more like a golf swing). When you get your hands on a baby wipe, you obsessively wipe off every surface in sight, without looking up. You love to push the kiddie-sized grocery cart at Trader Joe’s, and whenever Mommy takes too long to make a decision, you grab whatever you can reach, throw it in the cart and keep on going!

You’ve become a lot more imaginative the past few weeks. Without prompting, Mommy often finds you crawling around on the floor pretending to be a doggie (which is okay, until you try to lick the floor or eat out of Claire’s bowl!). You play pretend with different animals, having them kiss or talk to each other.

One of your favorite games is “Where did Dadda go?” You throw a blanket over him, and then giggle as you take it off. This game applies to any person or object. Occasionally, we hear, “Where Ra-Relle go?” or “Where Gigoly (Gregory) go?” or “Where Wee go?” (this one scares us, because you throw a blanket or pillow over Wee’s head!).

Speaking of pretend, you love to play church! After Sundays, you obsessively “cense” the house with whatever will swing. You hold books over your head and sing the “AW-AY- OO-YUH!”.

While in church, you spend your time finding every cross or icon possible to kiss! You’ve even used your pacifier to “cense” different members of the congregation. Everyone finds you so irresistibly cute and asks “how did we train you to be so good?”.

On our way to the beach!

Your favorite foods right now are definitely mac and cheese, any kind of fruit, and salsa! When we go to a Mexican restaurant, we can usually count on you to not only dip chips in the hottest salsa, but also take the container and actually DRINK from it! Woah! When we ask if you want to go get food, you say, “Rice? Beans? Ladas? TACO??!!” Surprisingly, you also love asparagus!

You’re just getting used to having a new “Sisss-ter Cat-luhn”, but you’re actually pretty easy going and haven’t had any difficulty adapting. Most of the time, you’re just happy to have someone new to play with! This comfortability is probably due to the fact that you love all your aunts and cousins that occasionally babysit you for short periods of time when Momma has to go to appointments.

You are so helpful to Mommy. Just this morning, as “we” finished bathing Wee “together”, Β she asked if you would go grab his diaper out of the other room. Just like that. And you ran and got it for Mommy! Sometimes, we ask you to throw something away or to put certain toys and books away. You love to please us and comply every time.

You got a much-needed haircut 2 weeks ago!

You also have such a special relationship with both of your Grandmas! Just like last year, your “Nana” Esther watches you for 3.5 hours on Mondays, and “Gran-ma” Courtney for 1.5 hours on Wednesdays and 3.5 hours on Thursdays. You get so excited when they come to the door to play with you, and eagerly show off all your toys and books. You barely even notice as Momma walks out the door for teaching πŸ™‚

At the Pioneer Day Parade with “Nana”. After this day, you couldn’t stop talking about “flags”, “cars” and “hawsies”

When you do get cranky at night, we sometimes turn on youtube videos of elephants or giraffes. Calms you down every single time. It can be the world’s most boring video, but you still watch it happily, for sometimes half an hour! This is the only TV you watch (other than the 45 minutes of Beauty and the Beast that you barely made it through before moving on to play with something else!), but we are happy to have it in our arsenal full of tools during the cranky-6-8pm hours!

Little Man, if you need to know anything about these past 2 years, know this: you are such a neat boy, and so so loved. Everywhere we go, people stop to adore you. Your aunts and uncles and grandparents all fight over who gets to spend the most time with you. You are so much fun to be around. Mommy loves getting to experience your little world on a day to day basis and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Love, Mommy

Ducks

Yesterday, our group therapy appointment got cancelled, so we took the rare opportunity of all of us being done at 3pm to go to the park (first, of course, we got some Thrifty’s icecream…cuz…you know).

All was well until we turned around and a GIANT goose had showed up, unannounced! I had Jesse pick up G, just in case.

And then, there was the awkward moment where I said, “Eww, what an ugly looking duck that is!”. And then, he tried to move and we realized his leg was broken. So, I obviously felt like the worst person in the entire world. In the end, he turned out to be the luckiest duck, because we gave him nearly all of our bread out of sympathy.

G was pretty enthusiastic about feeding the ducks! Smart kid, he started putting the bread right at his feet so that he could see the ducks up-close and personal as they came to get the bread

My sermons about tossing bread are quite good, actually

Gregory’s 2nd Party!

It’s really hard for me to believe that a year ago, we were celebrating G’s first birthday! I was 14 weeks pregnant with Anthony, and just beginning to come to grips with what things were going to be like TWO children.

Now, a year later, I have THREE kids. How weird is that?

This party was definitely a lot more low key than last year. I don’t feel bad about this fact, mainly because last year was our first birthday party for our first kid. It was more about us surviving that first year than it was about his actual birthday. ‘Nuff said!

I did all the grocery shopping the day before and made all the decorations while the cake was baking– so, basically, most of this was done in 30 minutes. It probably shows, but who cares?

As I briefly brainstormed his party theme about a month ago, I kept wanting to go for something cutesy, like Noah’s Ark or Dr. Seuss. I really didn’t want to do something generic like SPORTS, for heavens sake. But you know what? In the end, I just had to realize that this was GREGORY’S party, and his two favorite things in the world are icons and balls. So, rather than have an Orthodox themed party, we went with balls, specifically, basketballs. The orange/black color theme right before Halloween made everything a whole lot easier! Score!

The Guests:

Both of our families, Tess, Jerad and Stephanie + their two kids Marshall and Baby Miller, and 3 of Gregory’s older buddies from church.

The Basketball Menu:

Apple “Turnovers”

Carrots for “Dunking”

Watermelon “Balls”

Orange Cuties made to look like basketballs

Orange Gatorade and Balloons for centerpieces

“Shred the Defense” Shredded Pork (okay, that one was a bit of a stretch!)

A chocolate fudge cake with Reese’s Pieces!

Table of food

Nummm

I love how the Gatorade bottle just has a big “G” on it!

These oranges looked so much like basketballs, that people were tricked out of eating them! Oops.

 

 

The sign I threw together in 20 minutes

I printed off some of my favorite pics of G

Playing with his friends

The Birthday Boy

Some of G’s buds from church

Opening presents: Gregory got lots of books, arts and crafts, clothes, shoes, BALLS, play food, and some legos! I also got him a Melissa and Doug “Band in a Box”, but he won’t get that until his actual birthday πŸ™‚

This pacifier was definitely the gift that kept on giving!

Gregory’s new tricycle!

I had to help him with the pedals. Turns out, you can lower the seat…which explains why he wasn’t able to reach

Tess and Anthony, chillin

Playing piano together. Notice the back of Tess’ sweatshirt. Lovelove.

Room

One of the things we’ve been learning in our training (forgive me if I sound like a novice here) is that a sense of belonging will work wonders in a kid’s attitude/outlook on life.

Caitlin doesn’t have many things of her own, so one of the first things we did together was look at some bedding/sheet sets for her room. She hasn’t had her own sheets in years, and we figured they were an easy thing to use both at her temporary home and for when she finally moves in with us.

First of all, we bought these sheets at Pottery Barn teen:

These sheets in the black print. Only $23.99 + free shipping for the entire set, AND they’re organic!

Here’s PB’s inspiration photo

Next, the duvet cover.

$149 from Urban Outfitters– yikes! She agreed to wait until it’s on sale.

We’re kind of going for this look, overall, just with a different duvet cover

 

And then, the actual bed frame for later when she needs one at our place.

Even though this inspiration one at PBteen is $2700, we found one almost like it on Craigslist for $50! Unfortunately, it had already sold 😦 Oh well, we just gotta wait!

 

So, that’s it! What do you guys think?

So….big changes

So, basically, I should probably get out my “typing fingers” and fill you all in on a little secret the Cones/Honeycutts have had brewing for a few weeks….

No, we’re not pregnant. I will probably have to use that as a prelude a million more times before I turn 40.

We are going to be permanently foster-parenting a 15 year old girl!

Yup. And if you’re thinking, “How was THAT even on the radar for them?” great, so were we!

But that’s definitely how this thing is going to work. We’re never going to look back and think, deep down in our hearts, we always knew we wanted to be foster parents, because we’ve never even had a conversation about it!

I’ve always dreamt of adopting kids, but they were always babies, from another land. But never fostering American kids, least of all a teenager!

That’s what makes Caitlin so special. We love her enough that she was able to change and turn around all those “not us!” and “what if?”s that happened along the way. God convicted our hearts and changed them. She went from being one of our students at school to being someone we look forward to seeing every day, someone we love and want to protect. We want to raise her into a Godly young woman, then help her get her first car, go to college, and eventually have a family of her own!

Yes, we have 2 kids under the age of 2. Shhh. We know it will be hard.

But Love is always hard!

Because Caitlin has been in the “system” for a little while, we will have to undergo some special training in order to be better parents for her. We are hoping to eventually become certified as a therapeutic foster home instead of just Non-Family Relatives. It will take a few all-day Saturday classes, including one that starts tomorrow.

It also means that I will probably begin to cut back on teaching so many piano lessons so that I can be more available for her appointments and after-school needs. Jesse, of course, is always home by 3:15 or so, but we would both like to be there as much as possible.

But wait, you say, they live in a 2 bedroom townhome? How’s that supposed to work?

Well, remember our “maybe” house? The one that deviated from “The Plan”?Β That was our attempt at speeding up the process. Of course, Β we only did this because we thought that we had found the ONE house in Atascadero that wasn’t a short sale or REO, therefore making the process as quick as any house-buying process can be (45-60 days).

BOY were we wrong! In fact, we were informed a few days ago that we don’t know if the deed of sale will EVER be released from this lawsuit. There is no timeline at all right now– March? December? May? No one even knows.

Big Bummer, right?

Except for God has a huge sense of humor. Remember the house we wanted to buy, back in April? The one that is within ear-shot of where we work? And it all fell through at the last minute?

Well, the one next door, which has a bigger yard and faces a side street instead of the busy road, is available for IMMEDIATE rental!

Yeah, seriously. God just did that.

We still haven’t received official confirmation that we got it, but as far as I know, we’re the only applicants (as of yesterday).

The only thing we needed to do was terminate our current lease. The way they do it is they charge $350, and then make you pay rent until they find someone to fill your spot.

Luckily, I just happened to mention all of this to a co-teacher! Her brother’s family has been looking for a place with a yard and garage, and we started emailing about the possibility of them taking over our lease. As of this morning, they’ve filled out applications and official paperwork to take over at the end of October! Hooray, right? We’ll only be paying a WEEK of rental overlap– perfect for moving in to a new place, a 90 second-drive away!

Isn’t it crazy how when God wants something to work, He opens all the doors?

Until our place is ready and we’re all settled, Caitlin will be staying with my parents and little sister. My mom has been to all of the meetings with me, so we have developed this plan with all of her social workers and care providers. She’ll be sleeping at their house for the next couple of weeks, but we’ll be “parenting” her, so to speak– taking her to appointments, helping with homework, setting the rules, etc.

In fact, the social worker is dropping her off at my parents’ house in less than an hour!

So, I should probably go….and later, start packing…!

Please pray for our Cone family as we go from being “little” to “big”!

My “HOLY CRAP” moments of the week:

1. We’re going to have a teenage daughter.

2. I’ll be 26 with THREE KIDS. When did that happen?

3. My little sister will be an “aunt” to someone a year older!

4. We’re moving again! Noooooo!!!!!!

5. Great, we’re going to need a mini-van sooner than I had thought….