Category Archive: Family

December 14

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I’m going to dedicate this post to Renae Morehead and Maralee Bradley, both of whom have been scared by my husband many many times. Jeremy gets a special thrill out of surprising others and, lucky for him, Livia loves to get scared—especially when she’s getting scared by her dad. Tonight there was an excessive amount of romping around the house in anticipation of making (who are we kidding? it’s the eating that’s most exciting) fudge with mom. This moment was mostly staged as I realized it would be a hilarious DPP shot, but even then the whole experience still set Liv’s nerves on end much to our great pleasure.

I don’t think I’ve ever missed a DPP posting until yesterday. I mean, really. I had Jeremy post once for me during an outpatient surgery [cue eyeroll] but couldn’t manage one yesterday between forgetting my camera during my one outing and feeling kinda cruddy during the evening hours. I’m not losing sleep over any of this, but it was really hard to force myself to take the shots today. I’m glad I did, however, because I got a few gems that really captured our lives at this point. Maybe I’ll post the other pics next month. DPP rejects will live on!

Morning, Noon & Night at Holmes

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I found myself at Holmes Lake three times within 48 hours last week, with only an iPhone in my purse. I’m glad for that little camera! You can certainly capture a scene with it.

The Topeka Zoo

These shots were taken, oh, four months ago. Yes, I am just now getting around to posting them. I present to you: a bunch of Lawtons at the Topeka Zoo. Also, lorikeets.

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PLAYing at Kaneko

Yesterday was a big treat for Livia and me. We joined the Morehead minivan on their adventures in Omaha, and due to Renae’s great knowledge of fun things to do with kids, we visited the Kaneko building in downtown Omaha. It was so fantastic; there was something for everyone to do. No pressure to do anything, you could play with whatever grabbed your fancy and you could jump in at your own pace (just as Liv did in her cautious way in the blow-up house below).

I’ve enjoyed Jun Kaneko’s work over the past few years, this time was no exception! Thanks for taking us along, Renae. xoxo

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Thoughts on Having the Last Baby

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After Baby Boy came to our house last summer, I began to embrace the idea that this was our last baby. As he grew out of items like the infant bathtub or changing table pad, I passed them off. I gave away the infant carseat. My house appreciated the decluttering, but so did my mind. Making a decision to not have any more babies was simple to make as we had a baby living with us. With a full heart and full arms, I was satisfied.

As it turns out, deciding when your family is complete is a thought process every set of parents has to go through. Whether it’s considered at age 37 or 47, it’s part of living really. Jeremy and I hold loosely to our plans but we make them nonetheless. We’re aware that God is the Author of our story, so if he calls us to be parents to a new baby in a few years, well then, that’s what we’ll do. I have a long-running joke (nightmare) that I’m going to have a Tami Taylor baby, which means we’ll magically procreate a little punkin when Livia turns 16. Don’t laugh; I can totally see that happening, can’t you??!

In the depths of parenting a very busy early walker, I fantasized about having time to myself. Small children can be SO busy—ours certainly was—and time alone was so very limited. Taking a shower felt fairly epic and not at all mundane, and having lunch with a friend became a test of wills and patience as little hands grabbed at our food and threw his own Cheerios on the floor. I kept meaning to make a list of things I’d enjoy doing once he was gone. Though I never did, I’m still amazed at how easy it is to prepare dinner for three instead of three plus a baby. My evenings are now much more relaxed with no visitation workers dropping by twice every night, no baby needing bedtime prep, and would you look at all that free time in which I can shower! Amazing really. We took dessert to a friend’s house a few weeks ago and sat with them until long after the sun set while my big kid entertained herself. Life without a baby has felt remarkably free of time constraints!

In the days after the Baby’s reunification, our friend Sarah and her daughter Rosie came to visit town. Rosie is half a year older than Baby Boy but her very presence reminds me the sweetness of having a little person around. As I prep dinner she squeezes her body between me and the countertop. She says “hold you” and puts her arms up so I can grab her. She sits nicely on my hip and is a gentle hugger. She’s excited to see me (“Bucka!”) and her laughter is infectious. Jeremy and I hear her voice and smile at each other—that’s how cute she is.

The reasons for not having any more babies holds firm. I still have old lady elbows that aren’t going to miraculously heal themselves. We’re now 37 and 44, for anyone who’s keeping track, and that’s on the older side to start over with an infant. And perhaps the biggest reason of all, our daughter turns 11 this week. While she’s a fantastic big sister, the age gap of 10-11 years is nothing to sneeze at. The last nine months we’ve often operated as two families… The daytime grouping of mom + baby while Liv was at school and the evening pairing of mom + big kid while Baby was at visits.

As I work through the emotions of reunification—happy, sad, up and down, back and forth—I am realizing that I’m also grieving this life milestone of having the last baby. It’s a weird one, I can’t say otherwise! But even as I see the end of our family-building years as it pertains to babies (big kids are another matter entirely) I know there are always children for me to love. I’m still a foster mom and goodness knows this world is full of children who need a bit more loving. I have nieces and nephews and I have millions of children at church to enjoy. Literally millions. (Redeemerites love them babies!) I want to be a woman who nurtures children well throughout the rest of my years and I’m reminded that I don’t have to be their mother to do that.

The Last Baby

I was going to type “The Baby” and then injected “Last.” Wow, that sounds kind of intense! But really, I think this will be the last small nugget we foster around here. There are loads of reasons why, but you have to take me to lunch to hear them all.

So I’m going to show you some pictures, okay? Because this baby boy is SO DANG CUTE. Boy, blog, have you missed out. Ready?

Here’s a shot of him climbing into an extra carseat in our living room. Isn’t he funny? Can you tell he’s proud of himself for conquering it?

Here’s another. He’s towering over the dog, who has his ears back as he wonders if the Baby will squash him. Baby is a solid 10 pounds heavier than Shiloh, and as you can see in this shot all those pounds are in his tummy.

Oh and this one! He’s chugging a sippy cup of milk. In a minute he’s going to throw it down the hallway. Cute. And strong. Never forget, this boy likes to throw things!

Oh and this one kills me. See him all cuddled up in Jeremy’s arms? The boys. They do love each other. The Baby hasn’t always liked to cuddle, but now he does. Every single time Jeremy walks in the room the Baby expects a daddy snuggle. Man, what that does to a woman’s heart!

Did you enjoy my foster baby photo album? I hope so. I’m sorry if this was confusing to you! Foster babies—though real flesh and blood—are pretty much invisible online. You can imagine how fun that is for a photographer mom, right?

Roses from My Love

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This big bouquet of beautiful sat on my dining room table for a few weeks making me pretty darn happy. Thanks, Jeremy. You know how I like to be loved.

Fostering Parenting: An Explanation of the Gig

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Did you ever go to camp as a kid and make friends that you felt would last a lifetime? Or maybe you went on a missions trip or overseas with friends and you achieved this incredible bond. Perhaps it wasn’t a summer experience, but it was a semester or two or three with an amazing person in college. Whatever it is, you can recall that feeling of great camaraderie that perhaps led you to write back and forth for years, or ask them to be in your wedding party, or maybe even put them on your will as a godparent. In the same vein, maybe you’ve really gotten attached to a child you babysat on a regular basis or a friend’s child you watched for a weekend while they were out of town. You are connected still to that little one and enjoy watching them grow, perhaps liking all their pics on Facebook, or if they are old enough, now watching them develop a life of their own.

I’ve sensed others misjudging what I do and who I am as a foster parent, and so it’s my desire to clear a few things up. Those feelings of camaraderie and affection and enjoyment I described above are simply a reminder of what it feels like to care deeply about another person. We’re all capable of those feelings and most of us experience them. Some of us are parents or aunts or nannies and we intimately understand that deeply powerful bond you can have with a child. And that, my friends, is exactly what it’s like to be a foster parent.

Being a foster parent is not like having a job. As in, I don’t punch a time sheet and put on my Foster Parent apron and get to work on this kid. No, being a foster parent is fully parenting, going in the deep end of child-rearing with a child that more than likely will never bear my name, a child that will be reunited with his mother or father and then grow into adulthood in a house that is not mine. I don’t parent a foster child in a way different from parenting my permanent child; I can’t do that. It’s either all in or all out.

I’ve had people give passing glances to my foster baby and then ignore him. I’ve had people boldly inquire about my permanent child and not about the foster one. I’ve had people make assumptions about him and assumptions about the way our family operates. So let me unmuddy the waters: this kid is fully part of our family. We fully love him. And we fully support the efforts for him to be reunified to his biological family. We are not confused about that.

I shop for clothes for this child and I dress him multiple times a day, always wrestling him down to put on shoes and socks because holding still is apparently the Worst Thing Ever for a walking 10 month old.

I wash out those five Avent bottles a bazillion times a day—or so it seems—and they dry alongside the pink plastic cups and wine glasses the rest of the family uses.

I call and make a WIC appointments because formula is expensive and the state helps pay for his nutritional needs. I visit the health department every few months, sometimes disrobing the little dude and discussing his growth with a registered dietician. I then load up seven canisters of formula and 16 plastic cartons of fruits and veggies and then remind a Super Target employee how WIC checks work.

I sing hymns and lullabies to him at night because I want him to be comforted with music. I pray over his blessed baby head and ask the Lord to keep him safe always. I rock him in my arms and delight in those baby snuggles that come only when he’s tired enough to hold still. And I settle him in his bed at night, worry about the room temperature and will he be warm enough on this cold Nebraska night? I listen to the cries of rolling over and the sharper cries that summon me to his bed to pick him up and cuddle him once more.

This thing I do, this foster parenting, it is not somehow a separate conversation from my everyday life. It IS my everyday life. This child is as real a family member as any of us. Can you see how his life is not worth less than another Tredway’s life? He is real. And he is a foster child. Both things are true.

So whether you’re a visitation worker or a caseworker, a family support specialist or the head of a fostering agency, a friend or a neighbor, know that this child is part of our family. Know that he is fully embraced as one of us and that in our hearts he is our son, our brother, our grandson, our cousin, our nephew. He is our people, our clan. We will shower him with love as well as with ridiculous amounts of attention and praise. He may be here for a short time, but he is LEGIT. And whether you have advice on how he is raised or what kind of diapers he should use or feel like you should be allowed to touch his cheeks because they are full and chubby, please respectfully remember that you honestly cannot love him more than we do. For a time, we are his parents and sister and grandparents and aunts and uncles and we are committed to all that entails.

December 24

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After anticipating Tredway Christmas all day, the grandkids made quick work of unwrapping and then put some gifts to good use. Kitty robe, on. Art supplies, out. Canvas, colored. I wouldn’t mind late-night art being a new Christmas Eve tradition, especially if it means us adults can drink something hot and have a conversation with complete sentences.

My other competing DPP shots for the day included sunbeams from various angles in the car (because THE SUN WAS SHINING, WHAT?!), thumbprint Christmas cookies baked this afternoon, and slightly blurry candles beautifully lighting Redeemer Church at the Christmas Eve service.

My eyes are tired tonight, but my soul is full and content. The babe born of Mary, God became man and dwelt among us. How beautiful to remember His birth with candlelight and carols, gift-giving and eating together.

Much love to you, my friends. And Merry Christmas.

December 18

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My dad. I love this guy.