Big news around here, y’all! Rick and I are expecting….
…. our first foster kids later this year! We are planning to start taking classes and completing home studies toward the end of 2017. God-willing, we’ll be approved and ready to welcome kids by 2018.
As excited as we are to do this thing we feel called to do, we know that it won’t be an exciting time for the kids who get taken from their families and placed with us. It’ll be confusing and probably scary, so we want to be super prepared to welcome them into the safest, comfiest home possible. It’s the biggest, most challenging thing either of us have ever taken on, and we don’t take it lightly.
To be honest, I’m scared, too. And of course, I’m processing my feelings by trying to do everything in the world I want/need to do before the kiddos show up. I know life goes on once you have little ones, but I also know our pace and priorities are going to change significantly. So, duh, I made a list of stuff we need to do, and wrote about it. (How else do people deal with life change if not with lists and blog posts?!)
1. Travel, Travel, Travel
We have no idea what travel restrictions we’ll face when we get our kids. I’m happy to cart them anywhere I’m legally allowed to, but I’ve read that some are unable to leave the state, much less the country. This is one of the unknowns of foster parenting that makes me most antsy. Travel is a big part of my job and our lifestyle, so we are going to have to make a lot of adjustments.
To that end, travel is big on our Pre-Foster Kid Bucket List. doing our best to hit some far-flung destinations on our travel bucket list before the wee ones arrive. On the list: Costa Rica, Bora Bora, Manitoba, Iceland… realistically, we probably won’t get to all those places this year, but we are sure going to try.
2. Write Everything in my Brain
“Why do you write like you’re running out of time?” One of my favorite lyrics from Hamilton is on repeat in my head. On top of my usual barrage of blog posts and freelance work, I’m feverishly trying to churn out a memoir and a screenplay. To be honest, I haven’t been this excited about writing in a long time, and it feels delicious.
However, it’s taking a LOT longer than expected. I’ve only just got the first chapter in decent shape and it took two months! And I have to, you know, learn how to write a screenplay from scratch. It’s a tall order, but probably the bucket list item I’m most excited about this year. (Hey! That reminds me. Want a preview of the book before anyone else? Sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of this post and be the first to get a sneak peek!)
3. Take Care of Our Health
Rick and I are the worst procrastinators when it comes to taking care of ourselves. If it takes a phone call to make an appointment or follow up on test results, it’ll take years to get it done. I wish I were kidding. Between the two of us, we need x-rays, physical therapy, extensive dental work, Lasik and who knows what else. (BOTOX, hello.) We’re both working on hitting the gym and losing weight, too. More about that later…
Ideally, we want to be physically ready for the challenges kiddos will bring. It would be nice if we could lift them without throwing our backs out. (We’re so decrepit! Send vitamins!)
4. Pool Installation & Landscaping
A much more fun phone call to make is the one where I call a guy and he comes over and puts a pool in our backyard at the end of the month. YAY! We’re in the process of prepping the backyard, removing our one dying oak tree and getting a tiny pool and deck installed. It’s just too darn hot in Florida to live without one.
Once the pool is in, we’re going to plant the garden of our dreams… if our dreams were made mostly of tomatoes and peppers. This will be the year we find out if we’re any good at farming.
5. Safety & Childproofing
There’s nothing scarier than kids and a body of water, so pool safety is a big concern. We have a swimming instructor marrying into the family in three weeks, so all our future kids will get private swim lessons. We’re also adding every possible safety feature to the backyard. Cameras, gates, locks, fences, alarms – it’s going to be like Fort Knox out there.
We also need to bubble-wrap the whole house, put away everything that’s breakable or valuable, lock up the wine and cover the light sockets with those little plastic thingies, too. What am I forgetting?
6. Décor and DIY Projects
Our house was brand new when we bought it, so technically the place is ready for kids…. but you know me, I’ve always got a new makeover design percolating. So far, we’ve jazzed up the laundry room (tutorial coming soon), built some snazzy shelves for the living area, done some planting and painting. Ideally, I’d love to complete built-in cabinets and wood pallet wall in the living room, renovate my office and add shiplap & new lighting in the dining room. (Oh, and you know that tree Rick cut down in the backyard? He’s also milling it for a couple special projects. I hate to see our tree go to waste, so God willing, it won’t!)
Also, when I said “I would love to complete” I mean “I would love Rick to complete.” I’m Joanna. He’s Chip.
7. Kids’ Rooms
Our first year of marriage was such a hot mess with all the wedding fallout, we didn’t even dig into all the logistics of what we’d need for the kiddos. Now we are really starting to take stock of what space we have and how we can maximize it so everyone is comfy and happy.
While we don’t know how many we’ll host at one time, I have a feeling once we get the hang of things, we’ll take all we can fit. Knowing that the kids we welcome will likely be coming from some rough situations, more than anything we just want them to feel safe, loved and at home when they arrive. That means we have some room decorating to do to make everything kid friendly. We need kid-sized beds and bedding and clothes and furniture. And toys and books and school supplies and 10 million other things I haven’t thought of. Got any ideas?
8. New (Used) Car
A saucy two-door coupe named Sheila the Shark is cute for a single gal zipping around Florida, but I’m going to need something a bit more sensible once the kids arrive. Ideally, I’d be driving around in a shiny new Jeep, but the gas mileage and price tag are probably going to push me into something smaller and cheaper. Maybe a used Altima or Civic? I’m open to suggestions for safe, family friendly vehicles, so share in the comments! (No minivans, please. I just can’t.)
9. Prepping & Praying
We know that as happy as we are to have kids in the house, they are going to be going through way more than any child should have to. So we are doing a whole lot of praying, for our future kids and for us as new parents.
We’re also reading all the books and blogs and anything related to parenting and foster care. Please let us know if you have suggestions!
10. Naps & Dates
I love a spontaneous afternoon nap more than just about anything. Sure, I’m a wicked beast when I wake up, but ever since I quit my full time PR job in 2010, I’ve relished the freedom to get my sleep on whenever I want. With munchkins, those days will soon be a thing of the past. You’ll find me curled up on the couch whenever possible in the next few months while I stock up on ZZZZs.
And when I’m not sleeping the afternoons away, I’ll be dating my hot hunk of a husband, enjoying as many late nights out as we can, going to the movies and enjoying being just the two of us for a little bit longer.
We’ve never done this before of course, so there’s a solid chance we’ve forgotten something important. Parents, do you have any suggestions before we take the plunge? What do you wish you did before the stork arrived?