Welcome to my circus.

June 24, 2016
by Maralee

A Life in Status- March #1, 2016

Want more information on the chaos of my life? Want to see links to articles I’m reading? Want to join the discussion? Come on over and find me on Facebook and Twitter.

We had a 70 degree day last week so I put the spring clothes in the drawers. So obviously today it would be 30 degrees.

The Baby is pretending a calculator is a phone. Which makes sense, since these days calculators and phones look almost identical. . . although that doesn’t explain why he also pretends a shoe is a phone.
‪#‎everythingisaphone‬ ‪#‎hello‬ ‪#‎BabyMaxwellSmart‬

Bethany (6): Was that song Toby Mac? Oh no! I know who it is! That was Beethoven.

I’m pretty sure if it weren’t for grandparents, hand-me-downs and the Target clearance aisle, my kids would be naked.
‪#‎largefamilylogistics‬ ‪#‎thriftymom‬

A couple years ago I was at a coffee shop with some friends and a group of people playing board games sat down next to us. They were the kind of people who are very enthusiastic about their board games and were oblivious to me and my ladies having intense conversations next to them. At one point the guy who is sitting next to me rolls the dice and one of them falls off the table, rolls under my chair, does this weird bounce and rolls right back to the guy’s leg. He looks at it and just says (mostly to himself), “I must have truly loved it. And now it’s mine forever.” THIS IS ONE OF THE FUNNIEST THINGS THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED IN MY LIFE. No one else heard him say this and it took me a full minute to understand he had just referenced the “If you love something, let it go.” quote. So thank you, Board Game Enthusiast, wherever you are, for giving me a go-to funny moment whenever life seems stressful. I apologize for not laughing in the moment, but I promise I have been randomly laughing about that incident ever since.

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June 22, 2016
by Maralee

Is Adoption God’s “Plan B” for a child?

I remember the emotional gut-punch I felt the first time I heard someone refer to adoption as “Plan B” when it came to God’s perfect will for their child’s life. I didn’t feel like a second rate parent. I didn’t think of myself as “worst case scenario” but that’s what this kind of adoption language felt like to me in the moment. Like my child’s life would have been better without me.


Photo by Renae Morehead

It seems ridiculous to me that this language bothered me so much when I’d been using a variation of it with our group home kids for years. When they were grieving the choices their parents had made that had negatively impacted their ability to be safely raised at home I would validate that pain. I would talk to them about how in the Garden God didn’t create Adam and Eve and two houseparents to raise their children. God’s design for families was for moms and dads to care for their kids in a healthy and loving way. When that breaks down, other people may step in but that is sad and it’s okay to grieve it.

I understood all that and could articulate it for my group home kids, but my heart longed for my adopted children to not feel that same grief. I was giving them permanency. I was going to love them and they’d never have to leave me. Surely their grief wouldn’t be the same.

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June 20, 2016
by Maralee

Podcast Interview with The Forgotten Initiative

It was so fun to be able to talk to Jami from The Forgotten Initiative face-to-face (via technology) for the first time through this interview. Our families have lots in common (large multiracial families through biology, international adoption, and foster care) and we share a heart for kids and families in crisis. Below I have the link to our conversation and beneath that are some written thoughts that came to me after our talk.

-I talk about “God’s plan” a lot. I have read that for some adoptees, that’s really frustrating– to feel like “God’s plan” was for them to be separated from their biological family. I want to think about this more and I know it deserves a post all it’s own, but ultimately I feel like the Garden of Eden was God’s Plan A and everything since then has been God using pain and suffering to create beauty. Infertility wasn’t beautiful. My kids having to lose their birth families wasn’t beautiful. I have a hard time knowing what kind of a role God played in all of that, but I do believe he was active in creating beauty from the hard. I am NOT implying that God took delight in this pain, but in the same way Jesus wept at the death of his friend even though he knew he could and would raise him from the dead, I think Jesus weeps at this pain even though there is a plan to make something beautiful out of it.

-I advise that people don’t look at adoption as a band-aid for infertility. I want to acknowledge that there likely won’t come a day where you wipe your tears and say, “There. All better now.” and feel totally healed. Infertility grief comes in waves and it’s okay to still have it during the adoption process or post adoption. I think the important step is to be okay with grieving what you lose through infertility (the ability to carry a child, your specific genetic traits, breastfeeding, being able to protect your child in the womb, etc.) so that adoption doesn’t have to try and fix problems it was never intended to fix.

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June 14, 2016
by Maralee

How to Suck the Joy Out of Someone Else’s Fun

In case you don’t know, most of what I write is a “note to self” of sorts. This post is not inspired by trying to inform anybody other than the Joy Sucker-in-Chief on the other end of this keyboard. So I’m going to give you a couple scenarios of the ways I manage to suck the joy out of life for the people I love.

Kids: Hey Mom! Can we build a fort in the living room?
Me: (heavy sigh) Sure. I guess. I just don’t want to clean it up like I did last time. Can you at least TRY not to make the room a TOTAL DISASTER?

Husband: Some guys are going to get pizza tonight. Would it work for you if I went out with them?
Me: (SIGH) Fine. I’m just exhausted from the day, but I guess I’ll manage dinner and bedtime with the kids BY MYSELF.

Church Email: We need volunteers for the preschool class!
Me: (sigh) I guess I’ll sign up because I don’t spend enough time with preschoolers ALL THE OTHER HOURS OF THE WEEK.

Okay, so is this just me or do you guys do this, too? I actually do WANT my kids to have fun building a fort (or playing in the sprinklers or dumping all the legos out, etc.), but I don’t want to say yes unless I feel like they fully understand what a sacrifice it is for me to let them. I actually do WANT my husband to go out and have relational time with friends, but first I need to know that he gets what this sucks from me. I actually do WANT to spend some time with our adorable preschool class, but I need to know that I’m appreciated, even if that means I grump about doing it to myself.
If I’ve thrown a pity party about it it doesn’t make me feel better, doesn’t make clean-up easier, doesn’t make the children behave at bedtime, doesn’t make the preschoolers not wipe snot on my pants. All it does is make people feel bad and suck the joy out of it for them. I need to cut that out. I think there are two parts to banishing this ridiculous ritual for good.

First of all, I need to start rejoicing with those who rejoice. I need to see the fun in it for my little ones when they run out in the rain instead of just thinking of the wet clothes I’m going to have to wash. This is tough for those of us who tend to fixate on the logistics (Who has two thumbs and does that constantly? This guy– points thumbs at self.) I need to be willing to put my money (or time) where my mouth is when it comes to how important it is to me that my husband has friends or time to spend pursuing a hobby. It’s a focus on myself that makes me grump about these things when I know I’m ultimately going to approve them.

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June 13, 2016
by Maralee

What Your Foster Kids Can’t Do

When it comes to parenting, I think realistic expectations are an important part of maintaining your sanity. This is doubly true for foster parenting. Foster parents may have expectations of what their foster kid can do that put an unfair burden on that child. When we confront those expectations (even the subconscious ones) we can give our foster kids the freedom to be themselves. So what is it that we might expect from our foster kids that they just can’t do?

Your foster child can’t be expected to be grateful. If you know the circumstances your foster child came from, it seems natural to assume they will be happy to be removed from that environment. They may have gone from an unsafe and neglectful home into your loving care. Maybe they were often hungry or witnessed domestic violence or were responsible for caring for younger siblings even though they were just little ones themselves. You imagine they will be so thankful to no longer have those burdens and worries, but we forget that that life was normal to them. They have been removed from what felt familiar and placed into a foreign land of new rules and roles. There may be gratitude at some point down the road or gratitude for some things while they are frustrated at other elements of living with you. If you get into foster care thinking you are rescuing a child and they will thank you for it, you may be setting yourself up for frustration. Continue Reading →

June 10, 2016
by Maralee

A Life in Status- February #2, 2016

Want to laugh at me? It’s okay. Everybody does it. Join the fun on Facebook and Twitter.

Danny: You old butt!
Josh: I’m gonna slug you!
Bethany: (sigh) Boys these days.

When I started doing an exercise dance class, I hoped maybe I’d pick up some new moves. I am coming to realize I have mostly just learned how to do squats in time with music.
‪#‎baddancer‬ ‪#‎somanysquats‬ ‪#‎Refit‬

We’ve been trying to teach our child that if you feel nervous and eye-contact feels overwhelming, you can look at someone’s nose. Apparently, he took that to mean he should look at his own nose. So now there are a lot of awesome pictures of him from a recent birthday party and his school musical. . . .

Husbands, you don’t need to ask your stay-at-home wife what she did all day. If the house is still standing, then you can just assume what she did all day was BE AWESOME at handling stuff at home. Congratulations are in order.

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June 8, 2016
by Maralee

Here’s to You, Moms Who are Good at Bedtime

I think maybe it’s a problem of pacing. I just use up all my good Mom Magic and have nothing left by bedtime. I hadn’t really thought about how bad I am at bedtime until a friend of mine was talking about “tucking in” her child and I remembered that is a thing some people do. That is a thing I USED to do.

I think it was when I was pregnant with our fourth child and our oldest was four. Things started getting ridiculous. When you have a lot of kids, the whole process goes something like this:

Get youngest kid in pajamas and brush their teeth. Sit in the rocking chair. Read them a story. Get interrupted by toddler who needs you to push that button on his obnoxious electronic toy that he can’t figure out how to push. Go back to the story. Get interrupted by big kid asking about a snack. Now the baby in pajamas wants a snack and is crying. Get everyone a snack. Brush teeth again and get on fresh pajamas for the baby (because you got mushy banana on them). Back to the story. Skip most of the middle and make up an ending. Sing song to the baby and stare directly into his sweet eyes until THE TODDLER COMES IN SCREAMING about something it takes you five minutes to figure out was a problem with an imaginary friend she wants you to mediate. Go back to singing the song. Put the baby in the crib. While backing out of the room, big kid comes busting in because he can’t find the bear he always sleeps with. Baby is now crying and has to be settled again.

You see where I’m going with this? This is just what it takes to get ONE KID tucked in and you still have more kids to go. At this rate bedtime starts around 7:30 p.m. and winds down at approximately 2 in the morning. No thank you.

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June 6, 2016
by Maralee

For Anyone Who Has Pooped in a Cup

There is a secret society of people who have dealt with digestive issues. Nobody wants to talk about these things, but if you are currently struggling with one and especially if you are just starting the diagnostic process, I want you to know you are not alone. I debated about writing this anonymously so as to preserve my own dignity, but that seems like defeating the purpose of normalizing these problems. So instead I give this disclaimer– If you’re my mom (who is super classy), don’t read this. It’s about to get real.

First of all, there is nothing like calling a doctor’s office to explain that you need to be seen because you broke your pooper. There are just no good words to describe it on the phone to a receptionist. All of the sudden you find yourself awkwardly saying words that haven’t come out of your mouth since your high school anatomy class. “And then my. . . ummmmmm. . . my stool. . . it’s abnormal. . . . I think my intestines are broken.” So you schedule an appointment and then try to imagine exactly how they are going to get any useful information about this problem you’re having. It’s just an interview, right? They’ll take your word for it and something you say will magically make them understand exactly the problem and they’ll hand you a pill to swallow and then you’ll be fine? Yeah, that’s not how that goes.

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June 3, 2016
by Maralee

Book Review: Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love

When I read a good book, I like to let you guys know about it. “Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love” by Lori Wildenberg and Becky Danielson is a good book.

I’m pretty picky about parenting books. I don’t like the ones that say if you just follow these easy steps you’ll have a perfect child. I don’t like the ones that make you feel horrible if you don’t do it their exact way. I don’t like the ones that either over spiritualize parenting or don’t acknowledge the spiritual component. And I’m an adoptive parent, so some books just don’t speak to my reality of raising kids who may have trauma in their background. This book managed to give lots of good insight without hitting any of my triggers. Congrats, Book!

I know lots of you who regularly read this blog are also adoptive parents, so it is good to know that one of the authors of this book is an adoptive parent, too. While she doesn’t talk much about trauma or any specific philosophy related to the unique issues in adoptive parenting, I can see how that perspective informs how this book was written. There is a lot of grace for kids who may struggle with behavioral issues and a lot of compassion for the parents of those children. There is also a specific section on helping kids work through issues related to adoption, which I thought was really tactfully handled. I’m glad that in a book that’s not adoption specific, parents of biological kids will get a peek into the issues we work with and may be more informed when it comes to talking to adoptive parent friends or the friends of their children who are adopted.

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June 1, 2016
by Maralee

A Life in Status- February #1, 2016

Be part of the A Musing Maralee fun on Facebook or Twitter.

One of my kids got a bad grade on a spelling test and came home crying about not getting into college. CAN WE ALL JUST CALM DOWN ABOUT ACADEMICS FOR A HOT MINUTE? I hate the stress these kids are under. . . although it may not be very empathetic of me to respond by saying, “Oh sweetie, Mommy doesn’t care if you go to college.”

9 times out of 10, when the dog barks it means there’s someone at the door. . . which makes that one time when no one is there SUPER CREEPY.

If you ever wonder what kind of upbringing I had, I was looking through a box of old papers and found a thank you card my mom wrote me for a Mother’s Day gift I gave her when I was five.
‪#‎MissManners‬ ‪#‎skipsageneration‬

There’s nothing I love more than a jolt you out of bed 5:30 a.m. phone call saying there’s no school today. . . oh wait, I meant there’s nothing MY KIDS love more than a jolt you out of bed 5:30 a.m. phone call saying there’s no school today.

My husband after taking my temperature: It says you don’t have a fever anymore, so you’re all well now, right?
‪#‎eternaloptimist‬ ‪#‎6isalotofkids‬ ‪#‎stillsick‬

Bethany (6): Did you know this week was Warthog Day?
Me: What? I’ve never heard of that.
Bethany: Wait. . . no. . . GROUNDhog Day! What’s Warthog Day? And what’s a groundhog? And why is it a day?
‪#‎soclose‬ ‪#‎somanyquestions‬

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