Welcome to my circus.

July 20, 2014
by Maralee
1 Comment

A Life in Status- June, 2014

Moving, Summer, Pregnant, Oh my! I haven’t written here in nearly a month, but things are still active over on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll be back to writing soon as things settle. Until then, enjoy this look at the month in review.

(Trying to decide which school to send the kids to)
Me: Our current school has one percent more minorities than the other school.
Brian: You do realize with how small these schools are and how big and diverse our family is, that one percent might just be us?
‪#‎true‬ ‪#‎wearetheonepercent‬

Maternity Pants: Because nothing makes you feel more feminine and confident in your awkwardly changing body like putting on a pair of pants that have the exact waistline enjoyed by grandpas everywhere.

When looking for decorating ideas online, I find there is a fine line between things that inspire me and things that depress me.

Tending to kids who are sick with something you are now likely to catch is like skipping ahead and reading the last page of a book. A book you really didn’t want to read.

In this home kids do not wear pajamas all day, eat in bed, watch endless movies, and drink lots of juice. Unless they are sick. Which may explain why my kids respond to the news of a fever about how you’d expect a child would respond to the news that they are going to Disneyland.

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June 22, 2014
by Maralee

A Life in Status- May (Part 2), 2014

It’s okay to laugh. My life is kind of ridiculous. Follow along on Facebook or Twitter.

It’s slightly awkward when the AC repairman is trying to leave and the two year-old is shouting, “I going to miss him!” And is super awkward when the two year-old shouts, “I want to kiss him!” (No one in this family is allowed to leave the house without kissing the two year-old. Apparently this policy now also extends to anyone who comes over for any reason.)

In a fit of rage over not being allowed jellybeans for breakfast, the two year-old ripped off his shorts and undies. I’m putting this response on the list of Behaviors to be Sure We Eliminate Prior to Kindergarten.

Step 1: Ask for appliance recommendation.
Step 2: When asked if you need gas or electric, respond with “it’s electric.”
Step 3: Have no idea what they recommend because in your head you’re singing, “Boogie woogie woogie.”

The six month-old endured her shots with barely a whimper. But heaven help the person who has to wipe her runny nose.

A racerback one piece seems like a perfectly appropriate swimsuit for your four year-old. Until she comes out wearing it completely backwards. . .

Me: Joel, you need to tell your sister you’re sorry.
(He goes to hug her)
Me: You need to say it with your mouth.
(He goes to “hug” her with his mouth)

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June 20, 2014
by Maralee

Oh, to Grace how great a debtor

I realize when most people make the decision to become foster parents, they struggle with the idea of loving a child and letting them go. Who wants to sign up for that? How can you really love a child and commit to them with the full understanding that pain and loss are around the corner? Especially when you know you can’t control what kind of environment this child goes back into. For most of us this idea seems so foreign and frightening. Is it really worth it to risk that level of pain and hurt in our lives? What about in the lives of our children who will certainly attach to this new foster sibling and be hurt when they leave?

It was in trying to explain the idea of temporary caregivers to my three year-old when we first started foster parenting that I realized why this idea didn’t seem as scary to me as maybe it does to other people. Or at least, while it is scary, the fear doesn’t keep me from the investment. I think it’s because of the change of perspective I experienced very early in this parenting gig. It’s because of Grace.


Before we arrived in Liberia to bring home our son Josh, he lived the majority of his life in an orphanage. I am not going to idealize or denigrate the orphanage environment. It was what it was. While our experience with the orphanage and the people who worked there was positive, I know other children have come from the same or similar environments with scars and I don’t want to minimize that. The truth is that whatever success or failures it had, it couldn’t be a family for children who needed a family.

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June 18, 2014
by Maralee

Ask Maralee: The Type A foster parent

*AH! It’s been forever since I’ve done an Ask Maralee post! I’m excited to get back at it and look forward to your questions.*

Dear Maralee,

I’m a type A mom who likes to keep her household organized and know what comes next, but I’ve heard foster care involves unexpected changes and I’m not that flexible. Plus I don’t like strangers being in my house and judging me. Can I be a foster parent?

Why yes, yes you can. And you’d probably be a foster parent quite a lot like I am. This is very anecdotal, but I feel like the majority of the foster moms I meet tend to be a little more on the Type A side of things (sensitive to time, hard working, controlling, goal oriented, planners). I think that comes with its own strengths and weaknesses related to foster care. Here’s a rundown of what (in my experience) you can expect:

Type A Foster Parent Strengths:

Initiative: I think one of the reasons there are a lot of Type A foster parents are because Type A people are more likely to pursue those goals they perceive as “right” in spite of potential emotional cost. We will do the research, plan our schedules around taking classes, and finish the paperwork on time. If we think this is the right thing to do, we aren’t going to be deterred. This is a big strength in lots of areas of foster care— the initial licensing process, making appointments, and following up with needed services.

Planning: Foster care can feel like a part time job, especially when a placement is new. There are lots of initial appointments to set up (doctor appointments, any needed services, straightening out any school issues, meeting with caseworkers and lawyers) and then some ongoing scheduling that has to get figured out (visitation, monthly caseworker visits, updates to lawyers, court dates). Type A people are great at planning these things out, seeing the big picture as far as a child’s schedule and needs, and being sure the plan is communicated.

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June 13, 2014
by Maralee

My Dad’s Blessing (a story from Taco Bell)

My Kids,

With Father’s Day approaching, I want to tell you a little something about your dad. And about my dad, too. I want to tell you the story of the day your daddy asked Grandpa for permission to marry me.

Like all meaningful life events, it happened at a Taco Bell. Seriously. My parents were dropping me off for my third year of college and Brian met us for lunch. It was the only time he was going to see my parents and he wanted to ask the question in person. So there the four of us sat and Brian asked for my dad’s blessing. My dad responded with something like, “Are you sure you know what you’re getting into here?” and gestured in my direction. I think he was joking. At least, like, 60% joking. Nobody knows better than my family that I’m a bit of a troublemaker so a heads-up to Brian was probably in order. After some slightly awkward conversation my dad said something about if we decided that was what we wanted he trusted my judgement and he supported it. I remember my mom interjecting something about wouldn’t it be good for me to finish college first (a subtle suggestion she had been making since I was probably five years-old and thankfully I was able to finish college without without pregnancy interfering- Thanks, Infertility!), but my dad had no such prerequisite.

I knew my dad would give his blessing. Whether or not he thought we were perfectly ready for marriage or that I was ready to be a wife and potentially a mother, I knew he approved of Brian. Because he said so. And as you know, your grandpa doesn’t say much unless it’s important.


Your dad and grandpa in Colorado when they took a group of our boys on a trip.

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June 12, 2014
by Maralee

A Mother’s thoughts on Fatherhood

This month’s radio interview centered around fatherhood. While I am absolutely not an expert on how to be a dad, I am blessed to have had a great dad in my own life and to be married to one of the world’s best. This interview is really more about how moms can facilitate dads being the best dads they can be. (Spoiler alert:  It involves a lot of letting them be the unique men God created them to be and getting out of the way.)  Here’s a link to the interview with a summary below:


Dads are different are from moms. Each has strengths and gifts and balance each other out. Our kids benefit when each is expressing their unique gifts.

Know your dad. Especially as an adult, I think it’s important to see your father as a person with failings and strengths all his own. We can get hung up on what we feel like we needed that our dads weren’t able to give, but when we can come to understand them and their history, it can help us experience healing and truly love them for who they are.

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June 8, 2014
by Maralee
1 Comment

A Life in Status- May (Part 1), 2014

Come join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Before performing his daredevil stunts (tonight’s agenda: jumping from the end table to the couch), the two year-old yells, “Super Careful!” I do not think that means what he thinks it means.

Joel: Get me a DRINK!
Me: Hey, you don’t talk to me that way. That’s not polite and you’re not my boss.
Bethany: Yeah. Mommy is the boss of us. And Grandma is the mom of Mommy, so she’s Mommy’s boss.
Wait a minute. . .

Sometimes I vacuum just to drown out the sound of children complaining/whining/crying/fighting.

Me: The boxes of candy are for your teachers to show we appreciate them. When you get to school, you hand them to your teacher.
Danny: And then they give me something?
Me: Nope. This is just a day to say we’re thankful for them.
Danny: Okay. . . I give them candy and then maybe they will share a little with me?
I don’t think we’ve quite gotten the point yet.

It’s kind of awkward when you’re feeling self-conscious about your blossoming pregnant body and people keep coming up to you and saying, “You’re getting so chubby!” “Look how much you’re growing!” “I could just eat those squishy thighs!” and then you realize they’re talking to the six month-old baby you’re holding.

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June 5, 2014
by Maralee

A passion worth following

Today a funeral will be held for a very good man. His death was unexpected, but while his earthly life is over, his impact will continue on for generations. He was the co-founder of the foster care agency we work with and his vision and passion yielded tangible results. Children had save, loving, Christian homes because of the work he did to provide a faith-based place for foster parents to be trained and find support. I am glad to have known him in the small ways I did and I’m glad to have partnered with him as a Christian Heritage foster family.

I don’t remember the first time I met Gregg Nicklas. This is a typical problem for me. I don’t have good facial recognition skills and usually have to “meet” someone a couple times before it sinks in that I’ve met them before. I do remember about two years ago Brian and I spoke to a group of people about why we were foster parents. The session ended with a question and answer time where we spoke openly about our experiences with our agency and answered questions about them. When we got done Brian said to me, “You know who that guy was in the back, right? That’s Gregg Nicklas. He runs Christian Heritage.” He came up to us afterwards and warmly thanked us for speaking to the group and left. That said a lot to me about what kind of man this was. Here was somebody speaking about HIS organization— the good and the challenging— and he never intervened, never mentioned who he was in order to better field a question, never pushed his reputation around to be sure we said what he would want, never hunted us down later to clarify things. It gave me a lot of respect for him.

But it’s the conversation Brian and I had with Gregg a couple months ago that will haunt me for a long time. I don’t think in this one post I can do justice to all my thoughts about it and I’m sure it will find its way into many more of my conversations and writings over the years to come. And it wasn’t just his unexpected death that made this conversation powerful. Brian and I knew when we walked away from that interaction that his words had us thinking and we wanted that thinking to lead to action. When I heard the news that Gregg had died, my first thought was, “But we were right in the middle of a conversation! I wasn’t done yet!” That “conversation” had happened months before, but in my mind, it was ongoing and needed to be revisited. So I want to share that conversation with you in the hopes that it will inspire ongoing thoughts for you, too.

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June 1, 2014
by Maralee
1 Comment

Dreams are Overrated


All photos by Renae Morehead

I will never be hired as a motivational speaker. I am far too much of a realist. I was thinking about this personality trait of mine the other day when a friend posted a link to an article about why you should never give up on your dreams. It featured rejection letters received by people who went on to become famous and well respected in their respective fields. The concluding paragraph of the piece was about how we should never give up on our dreams and how rejection should serve as inspiration to keep going until we make it. This person was not speaking my language.

All I could think about were the thousands of people who have received rejection letters that instead of serving as inspiration to keep going, should have been a wake-up call that they were in the wrong field. For every Jewel who slept in her car until she made it big as a singer, there are a thousand unknowns who have slept in their car until they realized they weren’t quite talented enough or weren’t making the right connections to hit it big.


I realized how jaded I am as I was looking for a cute decorative wallhanging for our new baby’s nursery. I will never be the mom who puts up the sign that says, “Reach for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.”  What does that even mean? I think I’m going to commission my own more realistic art piece to hang over the baby’s crib that will say something like, “Sometimes the safe choice is the wise choice” or “Settling is underrated” or “Dreams are a pathway to disappointment” or “Failure is life’s way of telling you to rethink your life choices.” You know, something really poetic like that.

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May 28, 2014
by Maralee

Radio Interview on Motherhood

Each month I get to do a radio interview on My Bridge Radio that airs across Nebraska. My job is to present a mother’s view on whatever topic we’re discussing. So it felt a wee bit overwhelming to me when Stan picked motherhood as the topic for May. What is a mom’s view on motherhood? Such a big topic with so many facets! It was a fun conversation centered around an area of life where I’ve learned so much and still have SO much left to learn. Here’s a link to the audio with a summary of our conversation down below.

-What I love about motherhood is how challenging it is. Really. I’m rarely bored and love learning to think a couple steps ahead of my kids to stay on top of things.

-I learned motherhood from the best. I have a great mom who loves people and the foundation of love she gave to me has allowed me to freely and confidently love my kids and those around me.

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