Monthly Archives: December 2014

Today We Resolve….

At the end of another year and we are reminded of the many places we have fallen short in the past 365 days. Those things that we have struggled with are the lessons learned for our future. Today we resolve to work on the many struggles we have on a daily basis to be the very best parenting pair we can be.

A very Happy New Year to all of our family, friends and readers alike. We hope that you find the things you need (not just the things that you want) in the new year and the strength to distinguish between your needs and your wants.

Twas the Morning Before Christmas….

and all through our house sits anticipation for the coming days and thank goodness not a mouse.  A bottle made for little lady and plans to cook many many holiday cookies have been laid.  Still so much to do and so many people to see, but in the end we may relax and perhaps happy we will be.  Honey baked ham and Costco we may try to traverse, one thing we cannot deny is Christmas day we cannot reverse.   Christmas Eve celebration with caroling  and presents tonight will kick off the barge of merriment alright.  Tomorrow is set for family breakfast, more presents, the park and whatever we decided to do… it is Christmas at last.  Then onto Christmas night when California family travels in by a van’s headlight.  We will repeat and celebrate with family on the 26 to make our merriment complete.   27th, 28th, and 29th we will hit the town to find bright and merry ways to celebrate and we will try to not to weary.  So to all of our Baby Puzzle readers and family and friends we want to take a moment to sends out a message of family and cheer as our great celebrations are all so near so we say from Cheryl and I and the Littles and dogs, have a very merry Christmas and a Happy New!

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Rounding Out the Week

As I round out my work week and look at 2014 I am reminded that this is a time for family.  On Wednesday, Cheryl was telling me all about the ornament exchange and pot luck, and “ugly” sweater contest (those events might have been on multiple days and been part of multiple conversations).  She told me many of the people were asking her if Thursday would be her last day to work this year.  Today at school we also had a similar feel, but unlike at Cheryl’s work, school’s last day was today.  Unfortunately for Cheryl she has to go to work a bit next week.  Many people have lots of different schedules but the work schedule seems to be winding down.

Regardless of the time we have to or don’t have to work over the next few weeks Cheryl and I feel very fortunate to be able to have time with family.  The little ones in our care will have far less time to be with their families.  We are bound and determined to give them a chance to have as many memories as we can.  They will not be with their parents or their grandparents or aunts or uncle, nieces and nephew or other siblings, but they will be in a safe place with people who will care for them in their time of need.

Cheryl and I will do our best to be present for the little ones so the little ones will have something to place in their void.  Cheryl and I are also very aware of the peoples who we will not be able to be with.  The family and the friends who will be in other places for this time which is all the more reason to make the most of the time and experiences with the people who we will be with no matter how long or short.

Here is to hoping for all of our friends and family, the ones we will be with and the ones that will be elsewhere know that they are loved.  We wish the same for you and yours as well.  Thanks for reading.

Abundance of Generosity

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Last night we had our quarterly visit by our licensing agency.  Our oldest came back late from his visit which put me behind the ball in getting home; I made it home, but just in time.  Cheryl and our worker came in the door at the same time.  In both of their arms were gifts given by local groups and people to our licensing agency.  We continue to knocked off balance by the generosity of people within our community.  We are thankful for the abundance of literal and figurative gifts given to us.

This Last Weekend

Weekends are the time when Cheryl and I get to be with each other and kiddos the most out of any other time of the week.  We get to get up with the kiddos and be with them all day long.  No rushing in the morning, no running late in the evening; we are home together.  It seems like we end up packing more into a weekend day than ever could into a week day.  I blame the perceived flexible schedule.  The days are our oyster and we can make of them as we see fit.

This last weekend actually started with the middle kiddo getting his cast off.  Because I have never had a broken bone I have always just assumed things about the healing process.  It seems that some of my misconceptions of them have been set straight.  The little guy was a champ taking it off.  The doctor showed Cheryl the bone and the outer part of the bone was healed, but still has a split in the inner (he said it could take another month to heal all the way.  Either way the cast came off.  Even though the little guy did not mind the sounds involved in cutting off the cast he now is not a fan of walking.  (looks like he is back where he was when it was put on).20141213_094650

Later, on Saturday morning we decided to get up and go to a couple of stores.  The boys needed new shoes and we had run low on a few stock items at home.   After a Cheryl made a pancake breakfast, we headed out.  On the way out of the complex I suggested we take the middle kiddo to get his hair cut (we have permission to have his hair cut, but we do not have permission for the other two kiddos).  We swung into the local quick hair cut shop (which is where I took the picture from Saturday).  The cut was a success and the kiddo did a great job.  I think both Cheryl and I envisioned melt down city, but he did great.

We continued our morning by going to a few shops in Goodyear.  First stop a lady’s shop.  I stayed outside with the kiddos since the aisles seem to be so close together and it is hard to maneuver the bus of a stroller we have.  Both boys and I played a little game of “roar hands” (the boys love to make growing sounds so I joined in one time and showed them how to make “claws”).  They loved it mostly because of how awesome “roar hands” can be.  Time flew by and before we knew it Cheryl was done and we walked to a large aisled electronic store.   We strolled around a bit and made no purchases (it was really just in between the first store and the shoe store).  On the way out Cheryl asked for the oldest kiddos’ hand at which he refused and instead went limp down to the floor to throw a little tantrum.  We took him outside and got him out of the funk.

We continued on our journey down the sidewalk past a small aisle grape and potato store and past a couple other stores.  We came to the shoe store and found the aisle (yes they were small aisles) for the kiddos shoes.  The store clerk informed us of the “deals” they were having.  Later we asked the same clerk for assistance and she eventually convinced us to measure the kiddos’ feet.  It turns out that even though they mostly wear the same sized shoes the boy’s sizes a bit further apart.  We found two sets of shoes in the appropriate size (both of which light up) and went to the counter to check out.  As we were waiting, the oldest one found many interesting things at eye level that he wanted to touch.  Cheryl told him not to with which he responded by touching a different item.  I told him to stop with which he responded by going limp to the floor and having a tantrum.  I took him outside (since we had not paid yet) and by the time Cheryl had finished paying he was again out of his funk.

We decided to head back to the car since there were no more shops that we wanted to look at in this direction.  We walked past the many stores we had on the way there.  On the way back, I reminded Cheryl that we wanted to go into a store that was in the opposite direction of when we first started to find a table cloth.  We devised a plan that I would stay of the kiddos in the car while Cheryl ran in very quickly (this particular store has very small and aisles that make lots of turns).  As Cheryl went to leave the middle boy 20141206_183257figured it was his time to have a little tantrum.

Later on in the day, after the kiddos all had lunch and naps and played and several more tantrums for varying reasons we decided to go to a holiday festival in the great City of Avondale.  There was going to be amusement rides and street fair vendors and live music and snow.  We clothed all of the kiddos in sub-zero type clothing and loaded the car.  Cheryl, the master parker found a great spot right next to the barricades.  Lots of vendors and a as promised a Ferris Wheel.   We walked the length of the event and back again, but no snow.  The word on the snow (other than it was not real snow) was they had to close it down because when it was being made it came out too much like ice.  At the end of the event the kiddos got to see the jolly red suited guy in passing and both boys loved their red and white light up rods.

Sunday came and we did many of the same things that Saturday had in store for us.  An extended breakfast time followed by loading the kiddos up for a quick trip in the morning to a local store (we needed to get a few last minute things done early because we had planned a trip to see foster grandma Becky (FGB).  We ran those few errands with minimal issues and back home in time for lunch before a nap.  FGB called during that time to let us know that another weekend would be better.  After nap time we had lots of time for playing on their bikes.  The little girl even stood on her own holding onto a bike.  We watched Christmas movies with the kiddos and again dinner time and bed time came.

Cheryl and I turned in around 9:30 and I promptly fell asleep; a few minutes after midnight and I hear crying in one of the monitors.  I look over at the monitor next to me and to had quick spikes of red.  “I’ll go check him” Cheryl says to me.  A few minutes after Cheryl left I followed.  “He threw up, will you check his bed and see if any got on there?”  Nope it was contained.  Cheryl and I spent the hours between midnight and 4:45 trying to help the oldest of three feel better.  Just as he started to fall to sleep I heard the little lady reminding me it was time to eat.  Guess I am up for the morning, for the week.

Thanks for reading.  Have a great week everyone!!!


One year ago today Cheryl and I became full time foster parents.  It feels like much, much longer than just a year.  Many of the firsts that we experienced as a parenting unit happened out of order of the tradition.

We were first time parents to two children during the holiday season to one first timer himself and a second timer to another child.  I remember sitting by the tree helping a kiddo open gifts.  The first ever birthday party we threw for a kiddo we were parenting was a second birthday party; a few months later then for her brother.  We watched the first unassisted steps taken by our two year old.  I remember the excitement we felt when we finally were able to sleep through the night; the excitement for a kiddo who could sit up by himself; the excitement for a first time roll from back to tummy (we actually experienced twice this year); the excitement for a leap frog style crawl that transformed into a speed crawler; the excitement for the first time pull to stand and then cruse the furniture.  This year we even experienced the first time of being empty nesters.  Lots and lots of first time experience that we will never forget.

The thing that I will remember most about December 11, 2013 is that was a time that we thought we had lots of ideas of what to expect. December 12, 2013 at 2:34 am life and expectation changed. We expected to step into the lives of children we have never me and give them support while their care givers fortified the things in their own lives.  Beyond that we had a lot of misconception of what it would be like to parent children.  The time and energy that one puts into evening feedings cannot be described fully.  The emotional attachments that occur in a matter of days cannot be fully understood.  It was as if we had seen all of the outsides to a building and with each passing day (and yes I mean even into today) we discover new parts of that building.  We do not know what the future will hold for us or for the kiddos who are in our care, but we do know that we will discover whatever is ahead together.

Thanks for reading.

A Trip to the Mall

Yesterday afternoon, Cheryl and I were sitting in the front room wrapping and “bow”-ing Christmas presents for the little ones while the napped (yes we were able to get all three to nap at the same time).  We had a system going.  All of the presents lined up and accounted for.  Needed to make sure each kiddo had about the same amount, even though the share everything.  We boxed clothes from Target and JcPenney.  Once everything was staged we alternated the different wrapping papers so there is an array of papers underneath the tree.  Cheryl placed the delicate and (to me) frustrating bows on the gifts.  About half way in we decided to call it quits because it was getting awfully close to the time the kiddos would wake from their naps.

Cheryl was on her phone and she saw a “Santa” picture one of her facebook friends had posted.  “Nick, look at this great Santa.  He is at Park West.”   We decided that once the kiddos woke up we would take them to this out door mall to see Santa which we had chosen to hold off from just hours before.  Once up Little Lady went into her “elfie” Santa outfit.  Both boys were dressed in matching sweater suites.  You can see their outfits in the “Santa 2014” post.

We arrived at Park West at about 4:10 pm.  Found a spot to park in and got the kiddos in to the stroller.  We spotted the “Santa” station… there was a line into a door.  How long do lines like this go for.  We walked up with our tribe and as we got closer I could see that there were only three families ahead of us not the 10 or twenty that I feared when we first got out of the car because of not knowing how deep within the building Santa was.

Once in line an “elf” came over and explained the picture costs to us.  So that is what this Santa was peddling, pictures.  Of course we will buy some… it is not enough for the little ones just to meet the guy in the Big Red Suite.  The first family finished up with buying their pictures and the next one went in.  Loud wailing started.  The single probably three year old was deathly afraid of Santa.  I looked down at our little ones; the two boys enjoying their whole wheat goldfish and the little lady smiling up and me, playing with her teething toy.   We will be ok.  Everyone will go in and everyone will be excited to see Santa.

The crying boy finished up and the next family went in.  We are next.  It is amazing just how warm it is in Arizona in December.  I sat watching Santa who had two more hot bodies on his lap sit in a long sleave red, santa hat, long warm pants and big black boots.  Santa had to be sweltering even with the fan blowing right on him.  At the very least, Santa was very patient and very caring for the needs for all the children who came to see him.

Now the family in front of was finishing up.  The little girl was given a candy cane and she joyfully walk out of the room.  Cheryl and I moved the kiddos into the room.  We sat the three of them on and by Santa.  The oldest hopped down shortly after everyone was settled.  I looked down and in his eyes were giant tear drops and he just start wailing.  Cheryl and I comfort him and have him sit back down on the couch with Santa and the other two kiddos.  The picture that we posted here on wordpress shows the oldest one actually laughing which was about the only shot of him with laughter.    To be very honest the youngest did the best of the three.  At the end of the photo shoot both boys were given a candy cane.

We took the kiddos to a nearby bench to look at the photo.  After, Cheryl mentioned that there was a store close by that we do not have close to home.  We took the kiddos on a quick walk.  The oldest had been given a foldable hat which kept sliding down.  To help him not trip and to keep up with everyone I asked him for it.  He again started with the tears.  I tried to fix his hat which kept sliding into his face.  There must have been some mechanical part of the hat that I could not grasp.  Cheryl finally ask for it and placed it in the stroller.  With this he went limp and proceeded to have a temper-tantrum.  I picked him up off the ground and tried to place him back on his feet where he refused.  Gave him just a minute to cry and throw his fit.  As a parenting group we have seen lots of fits, but this was our very first temper-tantrum in the middle of a shopping market.  At the end no one was hurt, the hat was taken away, and we all had had enough of our Sunday.

On a side note… anyone living in the West Valley, Cheryl and I also learned to not drive on the 101 right after a Cardinals game.  It was not all bad though.  We went looking at holiday lights and got both boys into the spectacle of enjoying the glowing lights.  I am sure there were plenty of places that we drove past but the places that went slow enough to enjoy both boys loved doing the “ooooh, awhhhh”.

Thanks for reading.

Parking Lot Politics

Driving into work this morning I had a quick flash back.  When we first had our first set of little ones I would go to work in the dark.  It has gotten to be that time of year again when the first lights of the horizon are barely peaking by the time I get to work.  Strange how little things can bring back a flood of memories.  I remember getting to their daycare and trying to figure out how I was going to maneuver the two little ones (remember neither of them walked in the early days) in side at the same time.  I developed a procedure.  First get the stroller ready, then the older into the stroller and with the other hand the car carrier.  I figured out that if I parked in spots with a little extra wiggle room it made my life easier regardless of how others parked.  In those early days I am sure I looked a whole lot more inefficient then I am today.

Once at work I parked in the fourth spot from the end (there is a paint smudge which helps remind me of which one is the one).  Seems like more people than not here at work have assigned parking even though we are free to park in any of the spots.  I remember a time that I overheard one of the other works upset about someone parking in their spot.  In some places, the rules of the parking lot put a unspoken rule of which spot you can park in; much of the time that I go places with the kiddos that I go regularly I find myself applying the same basic concept.

I remember back before we had kiddos at all and we were visiting dear friends in Reno.  We decided to go to Costco to pick up a few items.  The friend had just fathered his first child and explained to me that he parks further into the parking lot close to a cart return.  It seemed odd to me at the time.  I thought to myself… it has to be easier the closer you are to the front door, but the words and actions hung in the back of my mind.

Now we flash to our current situation.  Three children, one back seat.  Simple enough, we place the baby in the middle and the two toddlers go on either side.  That was certainly a puzzler.  Still, I have to drive each day after work to pick up the SUV and leave my little car for Cheryl to take home.  As I drive into our daycare (yes a different one from the earlier memory) I search.  I look for a spot that has a little more wiggle room on either side and I am willing park a bit further away if it means I am not parked next to another car; nothing against the other cars, just much easier to make the journey to center of the back seat for that baby seat.  Most times, we have the boys walk out and stand next to the car (one hand on the body) waiting for the click.  It works better than expected.  Most people at daycare follow the unspoken rules of parking… not all but most.

When we are out and about, now that is a different question.  Places like Target and Costco it is simple enough to follow the cart rule, but and the wiggle rule works itself out (if we park next to a cart return there is a little bit of wiggle).  Now going to the mall, that is a different world all together.  Even the fancy pants mall seems to squeeze the parking spots so close together.  Some time (I think Saturday) this last weekend we ventured out to “The Children’s Place”.  We pulled toward our usual small spot park garage and there were four cars waiting just to go in so we tried a different garage.  Down we drove below the shopping.  Every spot towards the front was parked in until we got almost all the way to the end of the row.  Cheryl found a “pole spot”.  These spots are more generous than other parking garage spots and allowed us to have a little, unexpected room, on one side.    We did our mall shopping came back out and as we walked to our spot we had a spot creeper.  That spot creeper sat and waited at least seven minutes while we busted it to try to get the car loaded and the kiddos set.

I know that many of these rules existed before Cheryl and I began fostering.  I also know that many of these rules are self-imposed and are not necessarily followed by some.  Much of the time they are things Cheryl and I do so that we can be productive.

Hope you all have a great day (and remember to the follow the local rules of your parking lot)

On a separate note, we have had lots of people ask for pictures of the kiddos.  Here is a link to the Baby Puzzle’s Instagram page.  Lots to upload, but it is a start.