I cannot believe our baby boy is already 2 years old! Like HOW?! Sometimes I wish time would just slow down for a bit because I am seriously loving this age SO much.
Our hearts are so full after being able to celebrate another birthday with our sweet friends and family but this year was extra special because baby Weaver’s Papa & Lola (my Mom and Dad) were in town for his actual birthday and his birthday party. My Dad being the amazing cook he is, made 90% of the food and my Mom was up late with me the night before the birthday party setting up all the decorations. Having them in town from California along with our closest friends and family is what really made this birthday so special. I am so grateful.
Seriously Dad of the year coming out in this outfit!! He did that all on his own you guys! He honestly wasn’t even into my theme at first but clearly it rubbed off on him! 🙂
This year we decided to do a carnival theme and I when I say we, I mean me 🙂 but I am so glad we did 🙂 It was actually super easy to find the carnival decorations and my friends at Sky High Party Rentals really helped bring the party together with the perfect carousel bounce house and backyard carnival games!
Bounce House, Carnival Games & Balloon Artist
So many of our friends asked if I based the theme of the party around the carousel bounce house and the answer is no! Haha! But I am thankful that Sky High Party Rentals has the most amazing, unique bounce houses that really helped take our carnival party theme to the next level! Last year, we did a Candy Shop party theme and Sky High Rentals ended up having a candy land bounce house! I mean how perfect! You can check that post out here.
This year I had my mind set on the carnival theme but I figured any color bounce house would go with my theme and when I started searching the Sky High Party Rentals website I saw the carousel one and almost fell out of my chair, it was so perfect! Not only do they do bounce houses but we also were able to rent the carnival games, balloon artist, table and chairs through them too! It is a one stop shop for all you busy party planning mama’s out there! They also rent out popcorn, snow cone and cotton candy machines which also would have been perfect with our carnival theme but I told Brandon I didn’t want to go overboard. After boxes and boxes of decor he asked “your definition of overboard is 5 times beyond a normal person’s overboard, just saying”.. LOL I guess I can’t disagree..but anyway I cannot say enough good things about Sky High Rentals. They have such a great variety of party rentals and they also have really great service which is the most important. We have used them for 2 years now and they always deliver earlier than planned which is awesome because I hate setting up last minute and feeling frazzled as guests arrive.
To me, food is basically the most important thing about a gathering aside from the birthday celebrant! I’m so happy the chef of the family, my Dad, wanted to cook everything for the party! We had all of our favorite Filipino dishes; fried rice, chicken pancit, lumpia and my personal fave chicken tocino. We also had chips, Chic-fil-A nuggets and cheese and crackers. After the party my Dad told me he ended up frying 500 lumpia’s and there were only like 7 left so needless to say I think that was a crowd favorite!
Well, let’s just say we had a sweet treat about everywhere you turned. Our mama friends were thanking me all week for the candy that their kids left with LOL. I also bought sprinkle covered donut holes from the grocery store and plain cupcakes and topped them off with animal crackers. Getting them store bought and adding the animal crackers for the custom touch was such a great, less expensive option to stay on theme with the cupcakes. You could also get inexpensive carnival themes cupcake toppers like these.
I know technically this should fall under the dessert section of the blog post but this beauty of a cake deserves a section of its own. Ummm….HELLO how cute is it?! Gali’s Goodies is local to Pasadena residents and pastry chefs are Cindy’s aunt and cousin . I sent over my Pinterest inspiration and her aunt killed it! I mean look at that marshmellow popcorn detail! But wait, the inside of the cake ya’ll! NEAPOLITAN! What?! It was as delicious as it was cute! I would highly recommend her. I know i will be ordering from her again. Like I’m really trying to find any reason to get another cake made, haha! She’s also reasonably priced! Check out her Facebook page here and their Instagram page here.
Thank you all for letting me share our sweet boy’s special day with you. And a trillion thank you’s to our sweet friends and family who came to celebrate our sweet 2 year old!!
I know a few of you were wanting to do a carnival theme party too and had some questions about where we got everything so I hope I covered it all in today’s post. If I missed anything please feel free to comment below or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi beauties! The title of this post may have thrown you off today but I promise this post is so good! If you follow along on my stories, you got a sneak preview last week!
About two years ago Brandon and I were going through all the foster to adopt training classes, crazy busy with work and trying to deal with some other family/personal life situations that a few months in, we realized we needed to get our goals and priorities on the same page. Even as husband and wife, you have to take a moment in your busy lives to reconnect because let’s face it, life will grab a hold of you sometimes and you get so caught up in everyday tasks and trying to be there for everyone that you almost lose sight of things you are not doing.
Baby Weaver: Button Up: Old Navy (I had my friend’s sister put the graphic on the back for me) | Joggers: Old Navy | Shoes: DSW (these exact ones are sold out but linking similar ones here and here)
So I can’t take credit for this brilliant idea. Actually Brandon came up with it all on his own. One evening I came home from work and he was like I need you to fill this out. I was like “uh oh” LOL.
Okay so filling out the rate card is a 3 step process:
There are 13 “categories”: God, Family, Work, Church, Travel, Relaxing, Marriage, Dogs, Community, Health/Workout, Friends, Date/Activities and Kids.
1- On a piece of paper number them in order of how you currently would rate yourself
2- Rate your spouse/significant other on how you currently see them prioritizing these certain categories
3- Rate these 13 categories in how you think they should be prioritized. Let’s take “community” for example. Volunteering was such an important thing to me but when life got busy I quit putting aside time from doing anything for our community. When I rated myself this fell down to the bottom 3 of my rate card however when I rated how I thought it should be it ended you in one of my top categories. I hope that makes sense.
4 Things We Learned From This:
1- Man, when life got busy our priorities were all out of wack!
2- How we viewed ourselves is sometimes different from how our significant other may view us. For example, I thought I was putting so much effort into quality time with my husband but to be totally honest he rated me at 8 out of 13 which meant he felt that I was prioritizing us closer to the bottom of the list. Yikes!!
3- On the surface some of these categories seem like they are one in the same but they actually should be prioritize separately. For example, you may look at this list and think shouldn’t marriage, kids and family all be put into one category? Well, essentially yes, but you still have to make time and put effort into them as there own categories. Making time for your kids is different than quality time with your spouse which is also different than making time for your brothers, sisters, mom, dad, etc. They are all important. How do we prioritize all of them? That brings me to my next learning moment.
4- Once reality hit (LOL) we were able to put a list together of these 13 categories and how we would both prioritize them together as a unit. From here, we were on the exact same page, with the same priorities. Also, after putting that list together we brainstormed on how to actually execute them. Like, we both wanted to be more active and workout even with our busy schedules so we decided that we would both have the same workout schedule. Not that we would work out together but that if one was going to get up early in the morning to work out the other person would too. If one was going to the gym at lunch the next day, the other would plan to as well. It helped hold us accountable even if we weren’t doing it together. Also, we both wanted to do bible study but our schedules would not permit actually attending a bible study group session so we agreed we would do it at home together. Agreeing to make more time for our family meant, we would make a better effort to schedule a dinner or something of that sort with Brandon’s side of the family more often and also agreed that we would go to California more often to see my family. Just little planning things like that help because now we were on the same page and could help keep each others priorities in line now that they are the exact same.
Obviously, you can add in different categories or delete ones that you do not think are important for your own rate card but I went ahead and attached a PDF version in case you wanted to print it out and complete it with your spouse.
Happy Sunday you guys! Today I get to celebrate my first Mother’s Day as a mother and I couldn’t be more thankful. I’ve learned so much in the past 6 months and I wanted to share some things with you today.
But before I get all teary eyed and sappy I have to share another Brandon Weaver story. I was dying to get this Boy Mom shirt as soon as my girlfriend sent me a screenshot of it. As soon as I got it in I showed the hubby.
1. I’ve learned a brand new type of love for my husband. Obviously, I love my husband so much and honestly I adore and admire him like no other it almost seemed impossible to love him even more but then…I got the opportunity to watch him become a father. Whoa. Watching him play with baby Weaver may be my new favorite thing ever.
2. Mom guilt, wife guilt, work guilt is all so real and can’t be avoided. I remember the first day we had to take baby to daycare. I cried the whole way to work because I felt so guilty that I had to leave him with “strangers”. Then I cried the whole way home because I felt like I wasn’t giving my projects at work 100% that day because all I was thinking about was my baby. That same weekend I cried after everyone went to bed because I felt like I wasn’t giving my husband much attention that week. OMG, thinking back on it I’m like what is wrong with me?! LOL but seriously I still get caught up in those moments of guilt. I try to remind myself I am doing the best I can but honestly having mama friends to talk to and who can relate really helps too.
3. Take people’s advice with a grain of salt. People’s intentions are good but everyone and every child is different. The first month I was taking everything I read and everything people told me so literal that I think Brandon was ready to take our son and walk out on me. LOL, totally kidding but one day I would say someone told me that I needed to do xxx and then the very next day I would come home and tell him I read an article and we can’t do xxx anymore. I’m crazy I know. Listen to your pediatrician and then do what works for you and your baby.
4. I can actually get ready under 10 minutes if I really want to! 🙂
5. I never knew fatigue until now. It would be normal for you to receive a text from me at 2:00am and then see me at the gym at 5am full of energy. These days I have found myself taking advantage of sleep! I even indulge in a nap every once in a while and it’s glorious!
6. Having a sense of humor is a saving grace. So our sweet, perfect little guy has started throwing little “fits”. I mean it’s the most fake, dramatic cry I have ever seen in my life. While some parents, might be embarrassed, Brandon and I can’t help but laugh because baby Weaver still looks so dang cute when he makes this face. It happens when you aren’t handing him his snacks fast enough so it usually takes place at a restaurant or if we are out and about. He does this fake cry with his eyes shut tight and his mouth wide open. Like, SO dramatic you guys! I wish I could show you a picture. Sometimes Brandon will imitate him and baby Weaver will start laughing so hard. I’m like “daddy is making fun of you buddy!” lol
Obviously, I’ve learned so much more about being a mom than just these 6 things I shared today. I’ve even learned so much about myself in the past 6 months but honestly today I’m just so overwhelmed with emotion about the fact I even have been blessed with the opportunity to be a mother. When Brandon and I got married, not once did it cross my mind that it would be a challenge to start a family. We even waited to “start trying” because we wanted to enjoy being a married couple for a while. Then we found out it was going to be difficult for us to conceive, we prayed and prayed and prayed for our sweet family then God brought us the most perfect baby boy that we could have ever asked for. Honestly, not to be dramatic but if I was guaranteed more exactly like him, I’d take at least 4 more 🙂 I’m so thankful to be celebrating my first mother’s day as a mommy (eekkk!!).
Happy Mother’s day to all you mama’s out there. I have so much love and respect for each and every one of you. Thank you for always letting me share life with you.
365 days ago you were born. 136 days ago you were brought home to us.
I want this letter to be a permanent reminder of how wonderful you are and how much you are loved. Watching you take joy in each day fills us with so much happiness and seeing how strong willed you are at 1 year old is proof that you have everything inside of you that will get you to wherever you want to go and be whatever you want to be.
Baby Weaver, I’m not exactly sure why obstacles are thrown our way. I want to believe it’s to teach us different things and to make us stronger individuals. What I do know is that the obstacles that your Daddy and I had to endure brought us you and I’m not sure there could have been a happier ending.
There are no accidents and God brought us together for a reason. You have changed our lives and you, my son, are our answered prayer.
I remember the evening I first held you like it was yesterday. It’s crazy to think that at 2pm one afternoon we were rushing home to meet you and by 7pm that same evening you were fast asleep between us like that’s exactly where we were all meant to be.
This is exactly where we are all meant to be.
Your Daddy and I weren’t there on day 1 but I promise we will be here for you everyday going forward. We promise to teach you, to guide you, to never keep you from anything that makes you happy (unless it’s a girlfriend 🙂 )
I know some things may not make sense to you. Sometimes they don’t make sense to me either. But we can focus on what we do know. You are so loved. You are so smart. You are so funny. You are so kind.
I love you so so much baby boy. It’s a bummer that I currently cannot share your smiling face with the world but I want you to a look at this picture and see the smiles that you put on Mommy and Daddy’s face simply by being you.
I am so excited to share this post with you today! Since sharing our story with you, we have received so many questions regarding the process. I love hearing that so many of you have the thought of adoption in your heart. As you know, we are going through our own journey right now and since no story is the same I have reached out to the experts at our agency to answer your questions.
Let’s start off by sharing a little more about the agency that we chose to work with.
Arms Wide Adoption Services
Arms Wide Adoption Services, formerly Spaulding for Children, has been expertly and compassionately transforming the lives of children in foster care since 1977 by finding them safe and nurturing adoptive families.
Currently there are 20,000 – 30,000 children in Texas’ foster care system. Of these, approximately 6,000 are legally available for adoption.
Each year, more than 1,000 children in foster care turn 18 years old, thus aging out of the system without a family.
Within two years, some 25% of the children who have “aged out” of the system will be homeless. Approximately another 25% will end up in prison. Within four years, 40% of the children who have “aged” out of the system will have children of their own, who are twice as likely to end up in foster care.
These statistics break my heart. If you are one of the people who sent in your questions and are wanting more information please reach out to armswide.org or you can always attend one of their meetings to get more information. I know this is a huge decision and I know that there are a lot of you who would like to help in other ways. Arms Wide talks about one way in question/answer number 2.
Again, I want to thank the Manager of Adoption & Foster Care Programs at Arms Wide for taking the time to answer these frequently asked questions for us!
What is the difference between open adoption and closed adoption?
You typically hear about open adoption when considering private adoptions. Ultimately, an open adoption means that an adoptive family agrees to have some level of contact with the biological family after adoptive placement. The level of openness depends on the individual agreement in each situation and can include full disclosure of identifying information such as phone numbers and addresses or can be facilitated through an agency so that no identifying information is disclosed.
Open adoptions can come in many forms. One family may agree to annual pictures and a letter while others may send monthly letters and pictures to the birth family. Some families even create non-identifying e-mail accounts so their child’s birthmother can contact them whenever it is the right time for her. I have been a part of adoptions as open as the adoptive mother being in the delivery room when the baby is born, the adoptive family staying in the hospital with the birthmother and baby and, once placement occurs, continued contact through facetime and regular visits. Some adoptive families ask their child’s birthmother to babysit their child and invite them to school plays and birthday parties. The thing to remember about an open adoption is that it is based on the level of comfort of all parties involved and is only practical when in the best interest of the child. For example, if a birth family member is into drugs and is unreliable, contact may reduce to only letters until the family can be sure the child will not be hurt or disappointed.
Closed adoptions refer to those adoptions that do not include continued contact with a birth parent or birth family. In the past, most CPS adoptions, where children are adopted from foster care, were closed. However, today more and more adoptive families are including their child’s birth parent in their lives through emails, phone calls and even visits. In addition, many adoptive families continue contact with their child’s birth siblings that are placed with other adoptive families or with one of their relatives that is not related to their child. Again, it is important to determine that the relationship is safe and in the child’s best interest.
2. If someone is not quite ready to adopt, what other ways can they help these children?
If a family is not ready to adopt, they can always consider foster care. There is a statewide capacity crisis in Texas, which means there simply are not enough foster homes available for children in foster care who need one. If a foster home is not available for a child needing placement, that child will have to go to a shelter. Foster families ensure every child is able to live in a family-like setting during one of the most vulnerable times in their lives.
If foster care isn’t the right path for a family, they could also consider providing respite care for foster families. A respite care provider is a licensed foster home that only cares for children on a temporary basis. For example, children already in a foster placement with a family and the family needs a break or has a need to travel outside of the state or country without the child so they don’t miss school, etc.
Additionally, families at our agency need approved babysitters. When providing foster care, date nights are still important! So, becoming an approved babysitter is a great way to provide support to a family and to help foster children AND it is an easier process!
3. Is it really “easier” to adopt an older child?
I would never use “easy” in the same sentence as adoption!! No matter which route you choose to go about adoption, it is an demanding amount of paperwork, training and emotion. That being said, I think many people believe that adopting an older child is easier for a couple of reasons. First of all, more families come to adoption wanting a younger child or a baby. What this means is that families who are more open to older children have the opportunity to be presented more children in the long run. In fact, there are many older children waiting to be adopted right now, although not every family is the right family for every child. Secondly, when thinking of a private infant adoption, many girls are choosing to parent their children today versus placing them for adoption. Being an unwed mother is less frowned upon today, thus less babies are available for adoption.
4. What is the cost of adoption?
In regards to a private infant adoption, there is a significant fee associated with the process and placement of a child. The fee differs depending on the agency or attorney you work with.
When it comes to foster care adoption, there is no adoption fee involved. The state agency pays a minimal fee to Child Placing Agencies when they provide adoption placement or adoption supervision services.
Although there is no fee for the family for CPS adoptions, there are costs involved. For example, there may be costs related to bringing your home up to compliance. Every home will need at least one fire extinguisher; two story homes will need an additional fire extinguisher and a fire escape ladder for the second story of the home. Every home will need lockable boxes for medications and double locks for psychotropic medications. Additionally, when foster care is involved, homes will be required to get a Fire Inspection by the Fire Marshal and some will need an Environmental Inspection. These requirements differ based on the county in which the home is located. Fingerprints for each household member over 14 years old are a requirement which entail a fee as well. Other than that, there may be costs related to child-proofing your home or making small repairs that prevent compliance.
Lastly, once an adoption is ready for consummation, there may be attorney’s fees and court fees. Again, these fees will vary based on the situation.
5. How much information will we know about the family or child before we adopt?
When a child is placed from foster care into adoption, the family will be able to read the child’s entire redacted record – in other words, their CPS record that has identifying information removed. That being said, the record is limited to what CPS knows related to the child and their birth family. If birth parents are unknown there will be no past history. Even if birth parents are known, the record is limited to what past information was provided to CPS. Sometimes a record will only include information related the child’s involvement in CPS.
6. Why do people choose to “foster to adopt” rather than just adopting?
When it comes to foster care adoption, choosing to foster to adopt gives a family many more opportunities for placement than straight adoption. The ultimate goal of CPS is to get a child to permanency as quickly as possible with the least possible moves.
Agreeing to provide foster care before adopting benefits the child and the family. Once CPS recognizes that a birth parent is not “working their services” (completing drug rehab, securing housing, obtaining a job, testing clean for drugs, anger management classes, etc.) they will likely request agencies submit foster to adopt home studies. Moving the child to a foster to adopt home before the end of the legal case allows the child to be placed in foster care with the family that will adopt them once parental rights have been terminated rather than spending additional time in a foster home that does not plan to adopt them. Ultimately, this allows the child to start getting to know the family sooner and have an established relationship before adoptive placement occurs. Although there is a still a risk involved for the family, this is in the child’s best interest.
Families that choose to “straight adopt”, meaning adoption once parental rights have been terminated, will often wait longer because these children will need to go through their entire legal process before placement can occur. The legal process is often long with many court resets and a 90-day appeal timeframe once termination occurs.
7. Can I adopt if I’m single?
Absolutely. When an agency completes a home study, they are looking at ability to parent in general. If a single parent meets the minimum qualifications, is stable and has a strong support system, there is no reason they would not be approved to adopt.
8. What should be the first step if a couple is considering to adopt?
After completing research to determine which route to take – CPS adoption versus private adoption, the first step is to attend an Information Meeting. I suggest that families attend more than one agency’s adoption information session to get a feel for multiple agencies. It is important to choose the agency that feels right for you; after all, these are the professionals that will walk next to you through the entire adoption journey!
9. How many children can one couple adopt?
This answer is different for each family. The easy answer is that a family providing foster care or adopting through CPS can have up to six children in their home. If a family doesn’t have any other children living in their home, they could adopt a sibling group of six, but placing six children coming from trauma at one time with new parents would be way too much! If a family has two children already living in the home (whether biological, adopted, fostered, or unrelated), they could accept four more children for a total of six.
10. How long does the adoption process take?
This is the million dollar question for sure! There is also no easy answer! After attending an information meeting with an agency, the family can start the application process. This includes filling out the actual application, providing supporting documentation such as pet vaccinations, proof of auto insurance, proof of income, etc. The agency will also run background checks including FBI fingerprints. Once all of the supporting documentation is received, the family can attend pre-service training. Once the application process and training is complete the family will be assigned to home study by the agency. Ultimately, this part of the process and how long it takes really depends on how quickly the family is able to get all of the documentation submitted and how flexible their schedule is related to training and scheduling home study visits. I would say an average time frame for this is three to six months.
After the home study is approved, actual placement of the child is out of our hands. The agency acts as the agent to get your home study submitted to CPS for the children that would benefit from your strengths as a family. That being said, we also look at matching your family with a child in the age range, gender, race, etc. of your preference. The more specific you are in what you are willing to accept, the longer you will wait. For example, limiting your preferences in gender to only one male or one female will reduce your opportunities by half. If you are only willing to accept a Caucasian child, this decreases your opportunities tremendously. If you are interested in adopting a child six and under, even being completely open to race and gender, you may wait longer because there are many families who want to adopt a child in that age range. The more open you are, the more opportunities there will be to have your home study submitted and considered for placement. Once again, being open to provide emergency foster care placements or accept foster to adopt placements will expand your home study submission opportunities.
Again, thank you so much to Arms Wide for answering these questions. I truly appreciate what your team does for these children everyday!
Thank you all for following along on this journey. It has been emotional at times but most of all it’s been the biggest blessing! Speaking of journeys, we are taking our little guy on his first airplane ride today! Eek! I’ll be sharing more of our first family trip on Instagram!