Our Pre-Kid Bucket List

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?

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17 thoughts on “Our Pre-Kid Bucket List”

  1. Oh lady! I’m am so, SO thrilled for you two. Being a foster parent is one of the most amazing jobs ever. I have a few family travel blogger friends who foster. Let me know if you want to connect. The restrictions on travel do vary per kids (and photos are a no no), but you have so much so close to you that I have a feeling you will still find a lot of amazing adventures. Heck, I’ll bring my crew down and you can show off the state to us!

    Let me know what you need for the kids. Say the word and I’ll put a call out to my preschool and community and we will have more donations than you can think about. If you need stuffed animals I have a zoo in my house I will unload on you of barely loved animals who need a happy home.

    No matter how you get your kids, it changes your life. I will say the naps do come back, you just nap when the kids nap, and hot date nights still happen (meet every teenager within a 2-mile radius of your house right now!)

    Life changes, but as you already know, it’s not a bad change. I can’t wait to hear about your journey and hopefully meet your kids in the next year! My boys would like to put in a request that you get a 5 and 8 year old boy for them if you can.;-)

  2. If you’re looking for a kid practical, kid friendly vehicle that’s still fun to drive, you might consider the Honda Fit.

    It’s just as reliable as a Civic, with the same FANTASTIC gas mileage, and great safety ratings, but way cuter. Plus they’re surprisingly awesome for hauling things–be it home improvement things, sports equipment for the kids, or mountains of groceries! (I haul lumber in my Fit all the time, and the faces of the men in the lumbar yard while I load up always make me laugh. 🙂

    I’ve had a Fit for a few years, and it’s zippy, and fun to drive. The sport models come with sunroofs–which is less awesome than a convertible, but better than nothing? I don’t want to sound like a Honda shill–I just really love my Fit!

    Good luck on all your adventures!!!

  3. If you think car seats are in your future, you may want to seriously consider getting an SUV instead of a sedan. I love my Acura RDX, and I get great gas mileage with it. It’s a real back saver! You don’t realize how much time you will spend hunched over until it happens lol.
    I also recommend baby wearing. Even kids up to two or three, depending on their size, would benefit. Since these babies are being separated from whoever it is they have potentially gotten comfortable with, this would help them develop a bond with you much quicker, as well as help them feel more secure.
    For older kids, maybe take them to the store the first day and let them pick out a new outfit, toy, or book. Every kid will be different, don’t get discouraged!

    1. Thank you, Amber – this is super helpful! I’ve been leaning toward a sedan but with my back being such a hot mess, this really makes sense. Thanks for the tips!

  4. What an awesome thing you and Rick are doing! I imagine foster kids aren’t easy and bring a heap of challenges with them. You guys just have the biggest hearts.

    I think a trip to France to visit me is in order before the foster kids arrive!

  5. The Jeep Patriot and Nissan Rouge both get around 30mpg and the Rouge just came out with a hybrid version. They (Rouge) also have a 3rd row option, just not with the hybrid. Those are the ones we’ve been looking into because I am definitely NOT a minivan kinda mom! lol

    Also, I am so happy and proud of you guys!!! This is an amazing thing you are doing. You’re both going to do great, I’m sure. Just remember, parenting is hard to begin with so I can only imagine the challenges that will come with fostering. But if anyone can do it, I’m sure you can. You have such an amazing heart.

  6. OH! And I’m not sure if you’re going to be fostering babies or toddlers but if you do, look into getting the Baby Jogger City Select stroller. It’s a little pricey but the wheels are larger so they’ll go through sand and grass easier plus it’s modular so you can add a second seat and/or bassinet. There is also an option for a board in the front so the older child can stand in the front so you can have up to 3 kids with it.

  7. That’s so exciting!! What an amazing event to plan for.

    I have a kia optima – I know people like to get a good laugh at the kia but mine has been going strong a good 120,000 miles now (knock wood) and I love it.

  8. I’m so happy for you guys to open your hearts and home to kids that really need it! Definitely come visit friends in TN (hint, hint). I agree with the sleeping thing, take naps now before there is no turning back! And you probably want a mid-size SUV, I could never do a minivan either so that was the best choice for me. Kids have so much stuff and even for short road trips the space is nice! And of course continue to put your husband first when raising kids, it takes teamwork. Praying and wishing you all the best on your new adventure together.

  9. Hey, Angie! I am so happy for you both! What an adventure! We’ve got baby #2 due in July and the list of stuff needed never seems to end!

    If you just want a car, we love our Altima but we’re starting to look into getting a small SUV (totally with you on the minivans!). I’m in love with the Nissan Rogue but my GF with 2 kids absolutely adores her Honda Pilot! My mom-in-law just downsized from a Tahoe to a Chevy Traverse and seems pretty happy with it so far.

    If you anticipate having very small kids (under 2), might want to consider (at the very least) a playpen for outdoors time wherever you are. Keep it nearby for your car! Also, cribs that can convert into twin beds are where it’s at! We have one for our first-born and it has been a total money saver in the long run!

    Also, STAY AWAY FROM BUMPER PADS for cribs! Stores can still legally sell them everywhere but there have been studies showing a higher mortality rate in infant crib deaths with bumper pads. Something to do with turning over onto the pads with their faces and not being able to hoist themselves off, thus suffocation happens. I get so upset every time I go into Babies-R-Us and see them!

    One last thing, kids will do whatever it takes to get what they want, so you and your husband need to show a unified front to them, even if you don’t initially agree with each other (discuss behind doors, if you have to). Our 5-year-old has gone to me, got an answer he didn’t like and then found his dad to hopefully get a different answer. Luckily, Dad and I ask each other if we’ve already answered him before we make a decision alone.

    It’s going to be one heck of a challenging adjustment but whatever you do, keep the lines of communication open with your spouse at all times (even on the days when you don’t want to talk to him lol) and take deep breaths when the kids test their boundaries with you – because they will and some do it more often than others!

    Good luck with everything, girl! <3

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