Sunday, September 22, 2013



I'm looking for some new hair and skin products.  My hair has been limp lately, and it doesn't seem to matter what I do.  Since my hair is already dry, and of course, curly, all three of these together aren't good!

I don't want to look like I'm back in the 80s, but a little volume would be nice!  Suggestions?  Because my hair is so dry, I don't use shampoo.  I use wash out and leave in conditioner.  Right now, that's it.  Mouse or Gel suggestions?  Something else?

Any other products or styling techniques you love, feel free to shout them out!

Ok, what about make-up?  I use a mixture of Clinique and Mac products.  I have fair, pretty flawless skin (don't hate me) so I rarely wear foundation.  However, the shadows under my eyes are becoming more pronounced.  (I'm purposely ignoring any reasons for this.)  

Also, what about cleanser?  My skin is dry, so I am very good about moisturizing, but don't cleanse as often.  I need a moisturizing cleanser.  

I'm also open for lipstick recommendations...just because I feel like I could use a new one. :)  

Any other products or application techniques you love, feel free to shout them out!  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I need vision

The Village had a Night of Worship on Friday night.  It was amazing!  I am blessed every time my church gathers together.

One song we sang really got my attention.

Some of the words are:

God I look to You
I won't be overwhelmed
Give me vision to see things like You do
God I look to You
You're where my help comes from
Give me wisdom, You know just what to do

I admit, my thoughts immediately went to my little one.  I want His vision to see her like He does.  I need more wisdom.  I definitely do NOT know just what to do.  But He does.

I want to see the brokenhearted and have compassion for them.

That might mean my little one.  It might mean my students.  It might mean my friends.  It might mean someone I am around in a restaurant or grocery store.  I want to see the brokenhearted the way Christ sees them.  I want to acknowledge they're hurting and smile.  I want to have a more compassionate heart.  

God, I look to you.  
You're where my help comes from.
Give me wisdom, You know just what to do

Yes, Lord!

Monday, September 16, 2013

College Week

This week our school district is promoting college attendance.  Students have a fun schedule of things to wear each day.  Today was college t-shirt/jersey day.  J is proudly wearing an "OU Girl" t-shirt while displaying her "Hook 'Em Horns" hand sign.  Ha!  This girl cracks me up regularly!  Hey, as long as she's college bound, I'm over the moon!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


We had a major breakthrough today!

While I can't go into details, it was huge.  And I'm very excited and exhausted.  But mostly excited!

Celebrate with me! :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Routine is Key

I know routines are important for everyone.  I know they are especially important for children.  I even understand that are KEY for children coming from instability.

I've been to the trainings.  I'm a college educated EDUCATOR for crying out loud.

We worked all summer to build a stable routine.

I failed to connect the dots that starting school was going to be a major upset to her routine.

I mean I knew her life was about to change.  She's 5.  She's starting kindergarten.  OF COURSE, her life was going to change.  She'd never been in school before.  Duh!

I didn't realize.  I didn't connect the dots.  I didn't see how much this would impact her overall life perspective.

Y'all.  It rocked her to the core.  Duh!  Of COURSE IT DID!

I always try to prepare her when anything is going to be different.  If my mom is going to pick her up instead of me, we talk about it.  If we have a doctor's appointment, instead of going straight home, we talk about it.  The days we have gymnastics, we talk about it.  If we're going to run errands on a Saturday, we talk about it.

She wants to know what her day is going to look like.  So, we talk about it.

I talked to her about school during the summer.  We toured the campus ahead of time.  We went to Meet the Teacher night.  We talked about going every day.  (She wasn't sure about that.)  We picked out a lunchbox and backpack.

I didn't talk about getting up early.

I've sat here and stared about my computer screen for a full minute.

How DO you prepare a child for Kindergarten?

Should I have told her she'd see me a lot less?  No, that wouldn't have been good.

We did talk about eating in the cafeteria, but unless a child has seen it before, how can she picture that?  How do I prep her to eat, surrounded by noisy 5 year olds, in 30 minutes, when she's never finished a meal that fast in a quiet environment?

Should I have told her she'd be exhausted?  Actually, we did talk about that some.

I mean.  Should I have done anything else to prep her?

Her world ROCKED.  Hard.  Not only did her world rock hard, but my world is CRAZY BUSY at the beginning of the school year, which means I am beYOND exhausted each night.

So, her world is tilted on an axis.  I'm not around as much and when I am, I'm tired and not the same.  She's tired, too.

It finally occurred to me this week how much simply the change in routine had affected us both.  I knew we were both tired.  I was thinking some things were a "phase", when in reality what is going on is both of us getting adapted to a new routine.

Lord, thank you for Your presence.  Thank you for opening my eyes to Your love.  YOU are stable.  YOU are constant.  YOU are steady.  Thank You for Your unfailing, unwavering love.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Time Saver that Wasn't

Sometimes she takes a little more time to buckle up, so I was using that time to dig out the 1.08 I would need for the large diet coke from McD's I was planning to stop for on our way to school.  I pulled out one dollar bill and found a nickel.  I dropped the nickel between the seats and the dollar bill separated and was two dollar bills.  So, I then had to put away the extra dollar bill and look for another nickel and then the three pennies.

Yeah, that didn't really save time like I thought it would.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

After School Commitments

We've had several after school commitments this week.  She had something at school on Tuesday and at home on Wednesday.  I had something Wednesday at school and HAD to run an errand on the way home, so we were finishing up dinner when our Wednesday at home appointment arrived.

I started tutoring after school this week, so Mondays and Thursdays have consistent commitments now.  Wednesdays are occasionally staff meetings, but so far they've been every week.  We're waiting to hear back on something, and then she might have a commitment EVERY Monday and Wednesday afternoon.

Next week, she'll have gymnastics on Tuesday night, because I didn't understand they required a 30 day notice before cancelling, so now we're trying to fit in 4 paid sessions.

She has started eating a school lunch, which means I can sign her binder when I pick her up from after school care, and then leave her backpack in the car.

We've been finishing dinner about 7:00 and then start her bedtime routine and she's out about 7:45.

Whew, those hours after school pass by fast!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Day to Remember

I was in my college apartment when my phone rang.  Todd was calling to let us know airplanes had flown into the towers.  I was a little groggy and didn't understand the severity of the circumstances.  He told me to wake up Julie and I said, "She doesn't usually care about world events."  He said she'd care about this and to go wake her up.  We didn't go to chapel that morning.  We sat in front of our TVs.  The rest of the day passed in a bit of a blur.  Both towers had already been hit when I found out about it.  The plane crashing in Pennsylvania's field came later.  I remember hearing about President Bush being rushed to Air Force One and then no one knowing where he was.

Looking back, I was usually more adept at figuring out the nuances of situations.  But, I remember not understanding the severity.  I remember thinking it was weird President Bush was hopping all over the place.  I wasn't really all that concerned about what would happen next.  I certainly wasn't fearful for my life.

I called the hospitals a day or two later, wanting to donate blood.  None of them were having a special blood drive or anything.

Our college had a special prayer time that night.  Student led, we gathered on the lawn and prayed for our nation and the families of those that had died.

Everywhere we walked, televisions were showing news coverage.  Those pictures of the smoke billowing out of the towers and the Pentagon with a huge piece missing.

Conversations about what had REALLY happened on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.  Questions about any other planes out there.  Airports shutting down.  Families in search of their loved ones.  Missing persons signs being put up on any surface in NYC.

I remember the next time I traveled, which was sometime in October, there were soldiers holding very large guns in their hands walking around the airports.  I didn't feel safer.  I respected them.  I appreciated them.  But their very presence made me feel uneasy.  We hadn't needed them before.  But, our world had changed.  People in charge had made a very real decision that more security was needed now.

In the coming days, books would be published, songs would be sung, counselors and psychologists would be interviewed and the pictures would come off the television.  We didn't forget.  We did begin to move forward.  Some had gaping holes in their lives.  Some minor tears in our internal fabric.  We have all been changed.  We all live a different life now than we did before that fateful day.  I think the pictures are a good reminder of what happened that day.  We don't want to forget.

I'm an American.  I'm blessed to live here.  I love being a Texan.  Toby Keith's song makes me smile.  I'm not typically like this, but it kinda feels like a good "chest beating" song.  Stand up and hear us roar, so to speak.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Shout Out to My Support System

I can't tell you how many people I have in my life that are a wonderful support system.  Many that I have met in the last two-three years that have become a fabulous network of the fostering journey.  Some of them I haven't actually met!  (The Internet can be a wondrous thing!)

Shannon: Oh, Shan.  What would I do without you?  You check on me regularly, sometimes daily.  You are a prayer warrior that I go to with any "little" thing and know you'll pray!  You told me it was okay to mourn that my birthday was not the same.  That it was okay to feel taken advantage of.  That it was normal to be exhausted and to cry with little warning.  You told me I was NORMAL.  You made me feel NORMAL.  Shan, you're a dear friend, and I'm so glad you're mine!

FAM group: You ladies know your stuff!  I remember being slightly overwhelmed at my first meeting because everyone was talking at the same time and babies were being passed around and people came and went as their schedule allowed.  There might be five or six conversations going on at once, and all across the room from each other.  It's hilarious!  By the time J came, I was jumping into those conversations and asking questions and sharing information.  It's great!  I love y'all!  Thank you for answering text messages and calls of "What do I do with ____________?"  I love our network of information and SO appreciate y'all!

Kristin: WOW!  What a knowledgeable, sweet, giving, God-loving woman!  I am blessed to know you!  Thank you for your listening ear.  Thank you for opening your home!  Thank you for sharing your knowledge of the fostering system, our agency, parenting in general, parenting a foster child in specific and conferences around us!  You are a blessing!

Bledsoe family: Not a day has gone by that someone hasn't checked on me.  I truly think not one!  I have received text messages, facebook comments, emails, hallway conversations and hugs.  I am blessed to call you family and so glad to be a part!  Thank you for opening your heart to my little ones.  Thank you for holding open your arms and saying, "Come on in!"  You've opened your homes, your classrooms, your closets, and your bookshelves.  I remember one teacher sharing an anecdote from her son, "Mom, we're teachers' kids.  We're famous!"  I smile to think of my little one being famous and knowing how good that will make her feel!

Sara and Jana:  I would not have survived this summer without y'all!  Play dates, swim dates, shopping trips, text messages, phone calls... Whenever I was questioning something, you'd tell me it was normal.  My feelings were normal.  Our days were normal.  Reactions were normal.  Yes, I'm feeling frazzled.  No, we're not sleeping.  Yep, it's normal!  It's funny to me how knowing that what I'm going through is NORMAL made me breathe a sigh of relief.  Y'all are awesome!

My family: I literally would have lost my mind if not for the help of my parents.  Mom and Dad have supported me through this decision 100%.  They are my primary short term care providers.  They provide baby sitting when I have a work meeting or am desperate for some time at the gym.  They work puzzles and teach ABCs and how to use scissors.  They bake salmon and stir fry green beans and the kids gobble it up.  They go shopping for clothes and put gas in my car and don't expect to be paid back.  Mom has said more than once, "Alyssa, you feel called to fostering.  Our ministry is helping you with your ministry."  I LOVE that!  We're a family.  That means we do things together.  My cousins call or text to see how things are going.  They've provided school supplies, CD players, CDs of silly kids' songs, child medicines, DVDs, knapsacks and fun toys.  Our family is in this together!

My Home Group:  I bawled my eyes out in front of these ladies on Sunday.  I needed prayer and support and they came through!  Kathy prayed for me Sunday night.  Meredith has already filled out the forms to be another babysitter.  Jess invited us over for a play date.  Jen texted on Monday to tell me she was praying for me.  Val offered to run errands.  Pam and Lauren gave me sweet hugs before I left.  I am blessed to be in this group and SO glad we're back from summer break!

Veronica: I have loved our swim dates with "our" girls!  I love getting to know your family and love that we live close enough to be able to do it!  I'm thrilled you've moved closer to me, too! :)  I haven't been the greatest at keeping in contact, but you're awesome at touching base and setting something up.  I look forward to our fun times with our girls as well as our adult times out, too.  :)

Missy put me in contact with Kim who put me in contact with another mommy group up here.  Facebook is incredible at bringing people together, no matter their physical distance!  I love that I can read blogs, see status updates and know what is going on through various journeys.  Thanks, Missy!

My Houston sisters:  Y'all rock!  I knew our friendships were deep.  I've depended on them for years.  I wondered when I moved if they would change.  And sure, they've changed in that I don't see y'all regularly.  But the love and support hasn't diminished one iota.  AJ calls regularly, and I always get off the phone so very encouraged and motivated and convicted.  Melody drives to Plano at the drop of a hat to help.  The simple knowledge that she's coming changes my entire outlook on life.  Katherine emails regularly and texts scripture.  I love having scripture has a reminder of God's goodness and faithfulness.  Jamie asks good questions that make me continue to think about my next steps.

I am blessed.  I am not walking this journey alone.  God is good.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A Journey and a Learning Process

Right now, life is hard.

The balance of school and life is hard.

The balance of work and life is hard.

Certain behaviors are more difficult to deal with than others.

The decision of which battles to choose and which to let go is a constant process.

I don't like being a Debbie-Downer.

I don't know what to say when people say, "How's it going?"  When I respond with, "We're transitioning to find a balance."  or I smile and say, "It's a journey and a learning process."  That's my polite way of saying I haven't pulled my hair out yet, but there have been many tears, much heart ache, and a lot of agony.

I'm a communicator.  The people that I need communication from do not think waiting several days or weeks (or months) is a problem when giving communication.  No, I'm not exaggerating.  I received a phone call today after I requested information 7 weeks ago.  I have followed up almost weekly via email or phone since my initial request.

One person met with us 2 months ago today.  I still have not heard any results.

Our schedule might explode soon.  Two meetings will happen next week.  Depending on the outcome of those meetings, we might have several meetings every week, filling our evenings.  I'm exhausted just THINKING about it.

I had enrolled her in a gymnastics program for the month of August, then found another one through the city that was 1/3 of the price.  I hadn't given the 30 days notice though, so I'm paying for another 4 sessions and now have the joy of figuring out when to go use those.  Again, exhausted just THINKING about it.

We're doing fine.  Really.  We are.  But, it is still a journey and a learning process.  Starting school meant a new routine.  Another transition.  We're both tired at the end of the day and have to work hard to continue to build our relationship.

It occurred to me on Tuesday morning that right now, what I'm craving the most is a moment alone.  I'm an introvert.  (Yes, I really am.)  I gain energy from being by myself, and I haven't had any time by myself...good, solid time, in a long time.  It's not going to happen any time soon.  I get that.  I still crave it.

Randomly....coming up with a blog post title is always the hardest part of writing a blog!

Monday, September 02, 2013

Our Labor Day Weekend

Last Thursday night was a little rough.  And by "a little" I mean, I was kind of at the end of my rope.  And by "kind of", I mean I could no longer SEE the end of my rope, I was so far past it!

The first week of school was going well, but it was beyond busy.  I'd never done it as a parent before and everything was adding up to be more than I felt I could handle.

Friday, I called my mom crying at lunch.  I'd put something on FB that morning about the struggles of being a single parent and a friend offered a phone date.  I also emailed some good girl friends to tell of my struggle and to beg for prayers.

My mom was calm and helpful as always.  She had one, strong word of wisdom that I'm going to be clinging to in the days ahead.  She had some encouragement as well, which I oh, so needed to hear!

All three of my girl friends responded to my email immediately.  One with several scripture verses she was praying over me.  One offering a couple points of advice of how to walk in wisdom and with success as a single parent.  One offering to move her weekend schedule around to come visit.  And she did!

My family offered to come over for cards Friday night after J was asleep.  This is something we used to do quite a bit and it did my heart good to actually have some family conversation!

Jill and I had a phone date during J's gymnastics lesson on Saturday morning.  It was wonderful to catch up with her!  She's been a parent for 4 years and we have the same outlook on a lot of life's situations, so it was great to hear her perspective and wisdom!

Melody arrived Saturday night after J was asleep.  We had a chance to chat for a little while before we crashed.  J slept all night (Hallelujah!) and the three of us went to church Sunday morning.  I actually cooked lunch (which I LOVE to do, but hadn't had the time or energy in several days to cook a meal) and then J went to my parents house for the REST OF THE DAY.

Melody and I went shopping.  I bought a new watch and some make up.  Then we headed for the nail salon.  I need a pedicure and Melody got a manicure.  Pampering at its finest!  From there, we headed home for a bit, before meeting Becca, another good friend from Houston who was in town for the weekend, for dinner at Chuy's.

J slept all night again Sunday night!  (I think two nights in a row has only happened once before, so this was AWESOME!)  It meant we were up before 7:00 am Monday morning, but I'll take it! :)

Melody pretty much kept J entertained all day trying on shoes, painting toe nails and finger nails, building birthday cakes out of Legos and singing Itsy Bitsy Spider.  While they played, I was able to do 5 loads of laundry, decorate the house for fall and clean out the Harry Potter closet.  Fantastic!  In cleaning out the HP closet, J came into a LOT of clothes, too!  Hooray!

Melody hit the road around 2:00, and I dropped J off at my parents' before hitting the gym.  Then Mom, Dad, Angela and J came over for dinner.  AND, J fell asleep at 7:34 tonight, which means I have time to actually lay on the couch and breathe for a few minutes.

This was an excellent weekend!  One I needed very much!

First Week of School

Last week was BUSY!  First weeks of school are always chaotic for teachers.  Throw in moving into a portable and being a new mommy to a new kindergartner and life was a little out of control.  Monday she fell asleep in the car on the way home, which made bedtime that night a little difficult.  I've been told by other kindergarten mommies that Ks fall asleep in the 6:00 hour during Kindergarten.  I was looking forward to that, because that meant I could have some "me" time and of course, the first week of school I go to bed early, too!  Nope.  8:15.

Tuesday, she was HY-PER.  And yes, capital letters are necessary.  They'd had birthday donuts to celebrate a student's birthday and she was still bouncing off the walls when I picked her up.  But, she crashed and was asleep by 7:45.

She goes to after school care, which is in the cafeteria at our school.  They go out to the playground, which I like and she loves, so it's great.  However, she comes home sweaty-gross and in desperate need of a shower!

7:45 is now about the time she falls asleep.  It's working well.  I've been crashing not long after her, but am looking forward to the days when I have the energy to stay up a little bit longer.

As we drive to school each day, she chatters about what she's learned.  It's fun to hear about building bird's nests at recess with a new little friend and good choices and bad choices and "bubbles" in the hallway.

On Friday, her teacher showed me a worksheet they had done.  J had traced the word "am" and then written it herself FIVE times!  We've been working hard all summer, but writing letters or numbers on her own hasn't been something she's been able to do UNTIL NOW!  I am SO proud of her!

My Little Miss is smart and a hard worker and she WANTS to do things right.  She's strong willed and learning to compromise and a silly princess.

We're having fun!