Sunday, May 13

We Got Our Second Foster Care Placement Call (and said yes!)

One night last week, we received a very late call for an immediate need. This young child was understandably distraught when they got to our house. It was amazing how quickly he warmed up to our home and stole our hearts. The next morning, he was picked back up and placed over the weekend with his older brother. I missed him immediately. I missed him every day and thought of him and prayed for him. Monday, we were asked to keep him and his brother as an official placement!

Rush and I are now the foster parents of two boys, ages 5 and 7. We've had them nearly a week and it's been a whirlwind! Getting one to school, setting the other up in daycare. We spent two hours with them at Target on Tuesday trying to get the things they need. We're learning what foods they like (and don't!), their favorite colors, their favorite characters, how they play, how they sleep, what makes them laugh.

This weekend, we had planned to visit our families and so it was an out-of-town trip with the boys! They got to see the musical I directed with 80+ 3rd and 4th graders, met the four nephews plus our niece, and we all went swimming! I'm writing this from my mom's house on Sunday morning, as we decided to skip church. As well as things are going, some things are still hard. We chose not to navigate church on our first Sunday with them on Mother's Day, even knowing how supportive that church family would be.

I've gotten very used to saying the words, "I don't know." I don't know how long they will be with us. I don't know exactly why they are here. I don't know how or why or when things will change or stay the same. I tell them I wish I did. I hope things are changing for the better for those who need it. The goal for these children is for them to return to their family who they dearly miss and that is all what I want for them. They've taken up permanent residence in my heart as they occupy temporary residence in our home.

Thursday, April 12

We Got Our First Foster Care Placement Call (and said no)

After the years of planning, the months of constantly emailing and reminding people that we are here, trying to help, we finally got licensed. I was so excited I actually sobbed. I’ve never cried that hard from being overjoyed before. When I called Rush to tell him he just kept saying “it’s okay” and later admitted he doesn’t know what to tell people when they cry because they’re happy. From what we understood, it was going to be a while before we got a real placement so I was not tied to my phone.

But then, on my second day of bed rest due to The Most Heinous Stomach Bug Ever, I got a call from that familiar number. Rush had come home early to care for his sickly wife so it was a strange moment of the two of us to being together at 1:56 on a Wednesday. I showed Rush the caller ID and answered it on speaker. Can we take some kids? My heart was pounding. Three boys? We had said no more than 2 for our first placement but I don’t care, this is all I’ve been dreaming of! Ages 12, 13, 16? We’ve always said we would take no children older than our marriage, so 7 and under at the moment, but whatever, yes, yes, yes! They gave us as many details as they had and said they’d call back in 20 minutes after we had time to discuss. Rush was level headed. I was not. We talked it out and made the right decision for everyone involved.

We did the right thing. I know we did. But I haven’t stopped thinking about those kids since. Where are they? Did they have to be separated? Is the family who said yes as excited to have children as we are? Would they have liked our pets? And their rooms? Would they have been happier with us? We did the right thing. We aren’t ready to be the parents of a person who can drive.


Wednesday, October 24

Building and Renewing

I have decided to reclaim October. As Octobers go, this one has been pretty traumatic. But I refuse to allow the prequel to my third-favorite month be ruined! I'm sure anyone reading this knows that a week ago today, I scratched my cat's ears as a veterinarian quietly ended his life. I, however, was not quiet. Not even a little bit. I hadn't been the few painful days leading up to that moment and I weeped through the next couple days. In fact, I am still suffering a nasty sinus/ear infection from all the liquids that were flowing through and out of my face.

Things still hurt a little. Darling, sweet, heroic Rush hid all reminders before I even entered the apartment right after The Event. But one time I went into the study and caught a glance of Sugar's empty water bowl. Ouch. Yesterday I walked into the downstairs bathroom and automatically moved my left leg out of the way because that's the side Sugar would always hurry past me to get to his food. Ouch. And then, of course, there's the guilt over noticing (and enjoying) every vomit-less, poop-free inch of my floor. I like leaving every door in my home open without fear of an 18-year-old cat peeing on anything I hold dear. And that makes me sad.

But even through all of this, I can recognize that my hoodie-wearing, pumpkin-loving, crisp air (er, well, we're getting there) month is slipping away and it's time to move forward. No matter that my eyes water periodically or that I still cannot hear out of my right ear (infection, remember?) So I come, dear readers, to set aside my story of loss and share my joy of creation:

A tiny little business has been growing inside of me. As performers, we are all somewhat self-employed. Some of you know I recently starting selling Usborne Books (AND WILL BE HAVING A BOOK PARTY IN THE NEXT WEEK OR SO!! please come) and making my own hair accessories. This December, I am hoping to acquire an embroidery/sewing machine to delve further into crafting. Beyond that, I hope to teach private lessons from my own home in the not-too-distant future. So I've decided it is time for me to market myself. A friend from Samford is designing business cards for me and I have been working on a website.

My next task, that I would love tons of input on, is to brand myself. Just this weekend, I was inspired to give my "business" a name. It will pull everything I'm doing together and take me to a new level for marketing. But what should the name be? I've been playing with variations on my last name and here are some ideas:

Hoppy Arts: Live. Learn. Create
Art Hop: Live. Learn. Create.
The Artful Hop: Love. Hope. Create.
The Art of Hopping: Helping hopeful artists
Hopping Creations: Artists, Dreamers, and Doers
Hopeful Artists: A book, a dream, and a hop

...or some combination therein. Please share your thoughts on the names and taglines I have come up with so far and feel free to send in your own! I'm quite excited about our plans for the future, and I know I need to concentrate on that. As my Dove chocolate wrapper said this evening: A good love is delicious because you can never get enough. There will always be loss inside our hearts that grows with every passing soul. All we can do is be still in the Lord and praise His name for the time that we have together.

Monday, August 6

Healthy and Happy

I'm not going to pretend like Rush and I have been working out and eating well all summer. That would be a big fat (ha ha see what I did there?) lie. But there have been some serious, positive life changes happening, so that's good. Did you read my schedule for this summer in the last post? Yeah, we probably went to the gym a total of six times over the past few months. We ARE trying, and that's the good news, plus the food that we eat now is way better than before this journey began.

And now, I'm happy to announce, we just signed up for the Color Run! It's a 5k on Labor Day. Surely at least one logical person will read this and think, "no way can Emily do a 5k..." You are not wrong. I don't think I could possibly train up to running a 5k in a month. But that is not the point! This is going to be a fun day and my precious husband has promised to get me through it. Right there on the website it says: "You can run, walk, crawl, or cartwheel it if you wish!" And believe me, I realize I might finish dead last.

The Color Run!!

We've also decided to finally take the 10-day challenge that inspired our healthy and happy journey. Our 14 week mini pledges went great. It definitely makes you realize what is in your food! Thank goodness for Pinterest and all the great recipes available! I'm still working on the timing. We might start 11 days before the run so that we can celebrate that day, or we might use the run as our kick-off and start it the day after. We'll see.

The 10-day Pledge

As always, we would love for anyone reading this to join us in our adventures. Call me, text me, email me, Facebook me, or whatever! I'd love to know if anyone else has tried the real food challenge. And I'm sure some of you would enjoy the Color Run. We WILL cross that pink finish line! Even if I'm crawling.

Monday, July 30

"Be Still, and Know that I am God"

This time last year, I felt like I was on top of the world. Everything fell right into place. Nothing has changed since then. Well, not nothing. I have a beautiful nephew and I'm going back to school and I just had an outstanding summer. And still, I feel a little lost.

Speaking of summer, what a doozie this one was! The first two weeks of June, I taught different groups of 10 five-and-six-year-olds for 3 hours at a time at Red Mountain Theatre Company's workshop. It was intense and I loved it. The very next week I went to Huntsville to direct a middle-school musical theatre camp. The week after that, I was at Samford for my third year as co-coordinator at their Theatre Camp with 71 elementary-aged students.

In July, I had one week filled with two camps. In the mornings I was at Dawson Music Camp where I was the voice teacher, and then I went straight from there to lead Princess Camp at Gymboree Play and Music with 5 of the sweetest 3-year-old girls I have ever met. Busy busy busy, but that week was a blast! That very same week, I was in tech rehearsals for Legally Blonde the Musical with RMTC. Running the spot again, and I am LOVING it.

The past two weeks, I was back at Samford as camp co-coordinator. We had 11 teenage girls sign up so the three of us who started this camp 5 years ago were the only ones there all day. We had some theatre professionals come in to do master classes. By the end of the two weeks, our girls performed a scene from Hairspray, a scene from A Piece of My Heart, a scene from Wicked, monologues, the dance  to One from A Chorus Line AND an full-fledged 30-minute musical revue. It was awesome. I do not have words to describe how impressed I was by them, how proud I was of our work together, or how exhausted we all were after the performance.

So all of that is great. Legally Blonde closes this weekend, tomorrow I start back at Gymboree, at the end of the month I'll be starting classes, and in September I'll start my second year of teaching private voice at Dawson Music Academy with my brand new curriculum that I developed for camp this summer. Pretty awesome. And yet, whenever someone asks me what I've done since Hairspray, or what's next for me, I have no answer.

I guess this is my official update: I haven't done anything new and I don't know what I'm doing next. I have a lot going on and I'm very happy most of the time. Rush and I are looking into buying a house when I'm done with school. But then again maybe not. I'm planning on attending auditions, however that might have to wait until I graduate. I could look for another job, except I'm pretty pumped about the one(s) I have right now. I think I'll just stay still and quiet until May and see where that takes us.