Friday, December 18, 2009

Home Alone..

Tonight Caleb and I are home alone without kids for the first time in two years. I always talk about just wanting moments of peace and silence but it's feels weird. Caleb and I love time just together but tonight feels different. I started to write this whole blog but I am just not sure I can right now. We dropped the girls off with their mom tonight. We both felt a level of peace knowing that this is how it has to be for now. We pray. We wait. We hope. We don't pray that the girls come back to live at our house. We pray that they can be healthy and thrive with their mom who loves them. We pray that we can continue to love them in a different way now that we are not serving in the role of their parents. Oh how precious are these girls to us! Thank you for your encouraging words, and text messages, and phone calls, and facebook comments! We can't tell you how much we appreciate them all. We are Indiana bound tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The end?

It was exactly one year ago today that I got a call saying that Anniiyah, Makayla, and their brothers and sisters were taken into the states custody. We began calling social workers trying to figure out how we could have Anniiyah and Makayla come live with us for "a while." We didn't know what "a while" meant and at the time it seemed indefinite. Over the past year, we have had many ups and downs in dealing with the state and what our role is for this family and what the future would look like. We have had countless meetings to figure out what the best thing would be for all the children involved. We picked up the girls and about 15 garbage bags of their stuff 10 months ago today. Life changed a TON that day. We became parents of three kids instantly. I have said several times over this past year "I am really young and really inexperienced and I just don't know if I have the ability to do ALL this." God has been so faithful to us in equipping us to do what we needed to do. By His strength, we were able to be a family of 5 who actually made it to school and work on time, had a semi-clean house (it's all about perspective), and were able to get most necessary things accomplished. It also helps that we have had an incredible community of people to do life with!

Yesterday, I got a call saying that the state was granting custody back to the girls mom as of December 18th. I knew this was more than likely going to happen, but it instantly brought a flood of emotions. I am glad that reunification is happening. The girls love their mom and she loves them. I pray that this will be a healthy transition for the entire family. My heart hurts though over the family that I am losing. I know it's selfish but I love my family of 5. I love hearing "mommy, I missed you so much when I was at school today" every day from Makayla. I love Anniiyah's clumsiness as she flings herself all over the house. I love that Ava tries to do everything that Makayla does and follows her around like her shadow. We have only had them for a little less than a year but our family feels complete with them. I know that in some ways, life will get a lot easier. I realized that I spend countless hours of the week dealing with fits, and getting Makayla to eat, and doing hair, and redoing hair, doing homework, all those other things that come with having a 7 and 5 year old. Yesterday though when I was driving home, I couldn't think of any of those things. I could only think of all the incredible things that these girls bring to our lives that we are going to miss. I kept this really the end? Are they really not going to live with us anymore? Yes, they are going home and will not be here everyday but I know that this is in no way the "end" of anything. We have loved their entire family for four years and we will continue to love their family...and their family loves us! I needed my time to cry yesterday but today I feel more peace. We said a year ago that we would do whatever we needed to do, for as long as we needed to do it. We will continue to love Anniiyah and Makayla and their mom and all their brothers and sisters... The next couple weeks will be full of emotion as we prepare to take the girls back home but I am praying that we will all feel the presence of our Savior. We were shopping last night and looking at Christmas stuff and Anniiyah said "Mom, don't forget the most important thing about Christmas...Jesus!" So true! What a great time of year to be constantly focused on the birth of Christ and on His life...I know I am going to need that over these next couple weeks! Thank you for all our support and encouragement!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Video's for Christmas

Here are a few video's from the past week or so. The first video is after we broke a snowman when puting up the Christmas decorations. Ava put her hand on her head and said "oh no, Christmas is broken!" It was super cute and I tried to get her to do it agin. The next video is of Makayla performing her favorite song.... I would post more video's but it takes SOOO long to get them to load.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A blurr....

Oh my...The last month has been a blur! I will give some highlights and obviously post pictures!
The girls began weekend visits with their mom. We continue to pray for healing and restoration for these precious girls. I wish we could know what that actually means. They are struggling to understand what is happening. It's a lot of transition for them to be with us for 5 days and mom for 2.

* Went to Indiana for Aunt Kourtney's wedding. Kids and parents were all very tired by the end of the journey. Great wedding and we are excited for Kourtney and Brandon to start their life together!
I also got to be the matron of honor in Tricia's wedding. Tricia and I have been best friends since 8th grade and it was an honor to share in her and Chauncey's special day. Big marriage month!
I have started to come to the realization that our family may soon by changing. It was exactly one year ago that we started talking and praying about what our role would be in the life of Anniiyah and Makayla and their mom and their siblings. We had conversations with friends and felt called to do anything we could to bring them into our family. We knew that it was likely temporary. We also knew that we wanted them to be with their mom if possible. This past year has not been easy but God has been very real to us. He has showed us that we need to let go of trying to control our lives. We can't plan...we have no idea what tomorrow might look like. Evey Sunday night I feel like we start over. For all the hard, I look at my beautiful girls and I am so thankful I got to know and love them as much as I have. The level of joy that they bring to our home can't be described. Court is December 8th and we are thankful for your prayers. I wish I could tell you exactly how to pray but I am still processing.
On a lighter note...we are getting excited for Christmas. We are going to do something special with the girls for advent every evening becuase we want to instill in them what Christmas is about.
I wish I had some good videos to post of all the dancing that goes on in our house these days. My favorite moments are when we are all hanging out and the girls and dancing and singing at the top of their lungs. Ava loves hte Little Mermaid and sings "Part of that WOOOOORRRRRLLLLLDDDDDD" at the top of her lungs. Makes me laugh every time! Makayla and Ava love to find anything they can use for dress up (for ava it's a floppy pink hat) and they follow each other around the house with a shopping cart. OH the life of three little girls!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pumpkin Patch 09

Tonight we went to a pumpkin patch somewhere outside of the city. It was a lot of fun and the girls had a blast. Some of my highlights are as follows:
1. Carrie getting yelled at by the worker at the pumpkin patch and then him following us around micromanaging us.
2. Anniiyah announcing that she couldn't trust daddy anymore because he left her in the haunted castle
3. Carried telling a 6 year old boy "please do not talk to me" because he too tried to reprimand us.
4. Getting to walk out into a real pumkin patch and cut out our own pumkin.
5. After finding a pumpkin and letting Anniiyah hold it she was instantly exhausted and told caleb that he was breaking her muscles by making her hold it.
7. Caleb "milking" a fake cow.
6. At Waffle House afterward Makayla asked the waitress to open up her Mayo packet and put the mayo on her burger. We said "makayla, we can put your mayo on for you, the waitress doesn't need to do it" and makayla says "but I want her to do it, she is my best friend."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fall is here...

In this picture the girls are Hannah Montanna and Ava is Lilly and Caleb is Bobby Ray and I am Hannah's mom and Anniiyah says "and Becky, you can be our #1 fan."

I haven't blogged in a while so I won't try and catch up. Fall is finally starting to hit Atlanta. I LOVE this weather. The next couple months are why I love Atlanta so much! The girls are continuing to enjoy school and life. We have a lot of hard moments...moments where life doesn't quite make sense for them. I wish I had magic words to help them better understand what is going on in their little lives but most of the time, I need someone to explain to me what's going on. We continue to hold on to the fact that 1. God is faithful and 2. He is present in their lives and in our family and 3. He loves our girls more than we ever could. I wish I wrote down on the funny stuff that they say but I can only remember a couple for now....Anniiyah is a little sponge. She absorbs all kinds of information and then talks ALL THE TIME!

Anniiyah: "Daddy, the good stuff is know what I mean."
Caleb: "I really have no idea."
Anniiyah: "This bead stands for Pentecost...Pentecost is when God gave the people the Holy Spirit and they spoke in other languages."

Makayla: "That girl is crazy...FOR REAL"

Ava: "Movie and, boots, boots!"
I start my new job at the GA Law center tomorrow. I will be the Eviction Prevention Casemanager (or something like that...still figuring out the title). I am really excited. I feel like my gifts are used so much more when I am working with people. The next month is going to be very busy and very full but I am excited for weddings and fun with family and great friends. Here are a few pics from the last month...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Beach 2009

We took a trip to Hilton Head Island this past week with the Henley's. It was amazing and as relaxing as possible with three kids. We took lots of trip to the ocean and took a lot of bike rides. Thank goodness for a really nice McDonald's play place that we could ride bikes to. All our girls LOVE the water. Enjoy some pics.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1....

This week is usually a big week for us every year... Even though we didn't know her yet, 5 years ago yesterday, our little Makayla came into the world. 4 years ago this week, we moved into our first house in Atlanta. Hard to believe that we would love it as much as we did. 3 years ago we settled into our new life post Mission Year, while we continued to live in community in South Atlanta. 2 years ago we bought our house and embraced Pittsburgh as our new community. 1 year ago we were still getting used to our new little baby and all the changes that come with it. This year, we have three wonderful kids that we are raising and loving and enjoying life with. I always have strong emotions when I think of 4 years ago when we pulled up to 911 Hank Aaron Drive. We had no idea what God was going to do after our one year commitment to Atlanta. It's hard to believe that so much of our life is still impacted by God leading us here to do Mission Year. Last night as we all stood around our table singing happy birthday, I looked at Makayla who was SUPER excited about the cake, the candles, the presents and the attention. She looked so happy and so innocent. I love my girls so much. I love celebrating special times with them. I know that it might not be forever but for as long as I can, I am going to keep loving them with all my heart. Below are some pictures of the party. Enjoy!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Good Days....

Today was a good day. After months of confusion over the case with the girls, I feel like we have some clarity. I continue to pray for peace and wisdom but I felt like God was present in our meeting with DFCS today. We will continue to be the "fictive kin placement resources" for the girls because it's the healthiest option for them and us. We know that we are as permanent as we are allowed to be. We know God is in control. We will have our girls as long as we are able and if/when something changes, we trust that God is present. We continue to pray for stability but we know that the state can't mandate stability. Stability for our girls means being there every night when they go to means praying together, reading together, growing together, laughing means kissing scrapes and mending hurts. We are a family for now...and I love my family so much! Tonight I was leaving the house and Makayla looked up at me and said "but mommy, I really REALLY want to go with you so very much." How can you turn that down?!

I wish I could capture all the precious moments that take place in our home every day. Tonight, Caleb started singing a song from the Little Mermaid. I joined in making it a duet and Makayla would chime in with any word that she knew. Pretty soon we look over and Ava is singing at the top of her lungs. We all stood in the kitchen belting out at the top of our lungs "PART OF THAT WORLD..." I want to always remember these moments. Moments where I sit down on the couch rest and instantly have three girls "resting" on top of me. You know...there are good days like today where we sing and dance and laugh...and then there are bad days when we clean up poop off the floor for the 10th time...but I will take the good days and the bad days because that's part of loving each other. But...I will take singing over poop any day.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Back to School

Anniiyah and Makayla started back to school this week. It's going to be a challenging year but we are trying to be as prepared as possible. Anniiyah loves school and was instantly organizing her desk as soon as we got there. Makayla was....well, let's just say she was NOT organizing her desk.
We have been working on behavior a lot lately and having a lot of attitude checks. We sing a song that goes something like "Who's business is that business?" Anniiyah informed me this week that she really likes to be EVERYONE's business. She also lost her first baby doll named Lucy and when her mom bought her a new doll she decided to name it "Lucy II." Such a funny girl.
We went to the Zoo this week and the girls loved it. They have such a good time exploring and seeing new things. Makayla would walk up to all the different areas and say "OH my gosh...look at that!" I wish that I wrote down all the funny things that they say becuase I laugh at them all the time but then I forget it by the next day. Enjoy some new pictures.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Starrs take on Savannah

We took mom to Savannah for an over-night trip. It was great to hang out in Savannah and then spend the day on Tybee. It was the first time the girls had seen the beach or the ocean. It was a little exhausting to have three little ones in the ocean at one time but we all survived.
Ava wanted to sit in her own seat anytime we stopped. Many tears were shed over getting in her carseat

Ava was a hot mess!
Sitting by the river

Ava thought that hiding in the closet was awesome.

Sitting in one of the many squares...

It was a little hot for Ava. She was not happy without her "paci"