Saturday, January 29, 2011

Banned from blogging

Hold back the tears my two readers. But I'm banned from blogging......

Only for a couple of days so don't get too upset. I'm right in the middle of writing some pretty FREAKIN awesome curriculum for one of my favorite non-profits; HelpEndLocalProverty. And if anyone knows me, knows that I wait until the last minute to do anything. And this cirriculum is DUE this week. Which of couse means I've barely touched it. Oh it will get done. And Oh it will be INCREDIBLE! But I cannot blog until it is finished!

So until then..........
Enjoy these...(courtesy of my brother Mark)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our new roomie!

So, we have a new roomie! (and he is a rockstar)


This is Brandon. He is a ROCKSTAR, or at least we think so. He is an ├╝ber talented musician and has the prettiest hair (seriously, I'm jealous of his hair). He is interning (or will be soon) with our church Austin Stone and our worship pastor Aaron Ivey. We want him to have the freedom to do ministry and not have to worry about work, rent, utilities, etc... So, he lives in our downstairs bedroom that NEVER gets used and is a part of our family.

He loves our kids and they ADORE him. Connor still thinks it is absolutely the coolest thing ever that we have a Rockstar living under our roof, and that he drives a scooter. Bryce, who calls Brandon "Frandon" or "Him", always asks why he sleeps so much (you see a Rockstar gets to sleep in everyday). And, Alexis has taken to walking right into his room to find him. She loves her Brandon, and he can make her smile in a millisecond (so cute). He plays guitar, sings, writes, and shares a love of weird music with Adam. (I've heard rumors they are getting a turntable and are planning big things with that....um yikes)

Other things about Brandon: he's been on tour around the country, has an awesome family that loves adoption (I hope I get to meet them in person one day), and has a huge heart. He's going to give Connor and me guitar lessons (he just doesn't know that yet). Last but most definitely not least, he loves God oh so much and wants to use the gift of music to bring Him glory. That gets us SO excited, and we look forward to being (even if it is small) a part of his story.

*Did I mention that he was single? (I know crazy, huh?) What is wrong with girls these days???

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

You got a WHAT???......

So, you need to understand a few things about the McManus family...

1) We are animal lovers. Particularly dogs, but more on that later. Adam and I both grew up with dogs and cats and love them. Our kids are animal lovers too (especially our oldest).

2) We had 3 BEAUTIFUL dogs. Aww man, we loved those dogs. But, they were HUGE dogs. Unfortunately, although they wouldn't hurt a fly, the foster system doesn't really love them. The fear is that a little scared, wounded, hurt baby or toddler could be dropped off at our house and become overwhelmed or stressed out with 3 very large dogs in her or his face. So, as a state certified foster house, we were going to have to keep our wonderful dogs outside more than we think is fair. We found awesome homes for them and sadly said goodbye to our friends. Adam and I were crushed. Connor was especially upset because he LOVED them.

3) The idea of adopting another dog hurt us, our wounds from our other dogs are just too raw and new. But our kids were desperate for a pet.

4) Our kids (the boys especially) have had to say goodbye to lots of "family members" in the last year. First our 3 precious dogs. Then our Daniel. Then J-man. And another "brother" we only had for 1 day. It was starting to get a little sad watching our children say "goodbye" to family they loved so deeply.

So, we decided that a family pet would be a most wonderfully special thing to do.

MEET:
Starbuck

AND

Apollo

This cute little sister and brother were abandoned and left on the side of the road. The animal shelter let us have them for FREE (my favorite price), and they will take care of all their medical stuff (shots, spay, neuter, etc...) for a VERY low price.

As you can tell from the boy's faces, we are very excited about our new family members. New family members that Connor explained, "Are not going to leave us. Ever."

Monday, January 17, 2011

No idea......

Ever feel like you have NO IDEA what you're doing? Today was one of those days. I just felt like I had NO IDEA what I was doing.......

For example:

I let my kids have cereal or sandwiches for dinner(sometimes), because I just don't want to have the "eat all your dinner" battle AGAIN. I have NO IDEA why they hate dinner so much.

My second and third children REFUSE to talk before the age of two. Both are "evil" smart and both have refused to talk. Connor was practically debating with high schoolers by 18 months. Bryce(3 years old) now talks up a storm. And Alexis (18 mths) only has 15 words. I have NO IDEA why.

Connor is learning how to read and I have NO IDEA if I'm doing a good or a bad job. And I'm absolutely petrified that I'll mess up his ability to love to read for the rest of his life. (Did I mention that I used to be a teacher???!!!)

I watch stupid reality TV. I mean we're talking Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant, and The Bachelor. The stupid stuff and I have NO IDEA why, but I love it.

After spending a evening listening to Brandon (our new roomie) play guitar and sing, I decided that I needed some sort of hobby. I have NO IDEA what it will be. (Any ideas for me?)

I work out everyday because I love it. But I have NO IDEA why I can't eat healthy. I just don't.

I'm more in love with my husband then I was the day I stood up to marry him. We don't fight like EVER even though our life is a crazy circus pretty much all the time. I have NO IDEA what we do, but we just work perfectly. (Well I might have some ideas about this one, but that is for another post)

I have a new camera that came with a freakin novel for a manual. And I haven't read it yet. So I currently have NO IDEA how to use my camera.

Ever feel this way? Like you have NO IDEA what you're doing?

(Luckily for me, my kids are adorable and even though I have NO IDEA how to use my new camera, I got these.....)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Home Decor 101

I totally suck at "decorating". I'm beginning to think I was sick that day they covered that in my Life Styles class in High School. Remember that class? You studied things like healthy food choices, how to write job resumes, interview, balance a check book, taxes, etc.

But like I said I missed "Home Decor 101" day. I decorate in 2 different ways.

1) Hang a bunch of pictures of my family (in frames, I have class people) in some random maybe not so random way.

2) Leave the wall ABSOLUTELY blank!

So this weekend I spent some Christmas money and bought random crap to hang on our walls. I had no idea what I was doing and just kind of bought stuff I liked. Then I came home and kind of threw them up on the wall.

Here's some pictures.......
*that giant silver frame will soon hold our family picture, it's just not here yet.
* these canvas prints are from Daniel Davis our first roomie.

I'm still working on the next couple of walls. I bought a giant mirror for our living room but have no idea what else to put with it. So just picture a giant white wall with a mirror on it. It's a start though, right?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A story to tell.....

I've always loved telling stories. Back when I was cool and hip in the eyes of all the youth I worked with, I was known for my crazy stories. But I've never felt like I have a life changing story in anyway. But the last year has been quite a crazy one for our family and I'm beginning to feel like maybe I do have a story to tell, and more importantly that we ALL have stories.

This week were asked to tell our story about fostering in less than 3,00 words. It was harder than I thought it would be, but here is what I came up with. You might see this story one day in a little video or published in a book, but until then read it and take a moment to think about your story. Do you have one to tell? If so I encourage you to write it down, share it with others, or keep it to yourself and then reread someday. Enjoy.....

Within a month of completing our foster care certification, J-man (a 10 month old little boy) was dropped off at our home in the late afternoon. He was scared, over tired, hungry, and had nothing. We were told his case would likely end with adoption into our family. Over the next couple of weeks he became our son, a brother to our boys, and a "twin" to our daughter. We were now a happy family of 6!

3 weeks later we found ourselves meeting Bio Mom and learning that she was fighting to get him back. CPS now believed J-man would one day be reunified with her. It hurt deeply.

We picked ourselves up off the floor and made a decision. We weren't just called to love our son for as long as he was in our family. We were called to love his Bio Mom too. Jen began to befriend her slowly, learning her story. She grew up in foster care and did not trust the system. She never felt like anyone was on her side, then or now.

She became part of our foster story. We called her, encouraged her, held her hand in court, and even helped her throw a birthday party for J-man, letting her invite her friends/family. We saw her change, grow, start making smart decisions, and become a better Mom. Jen held her and talked her through a miscarriage. She was our son's mother and she needed our love, support, help, and prayers. We made her struggles our own, even though it would mean J-man would eventually leave our family.

6 months later, we drove a van full of clothes, diapers, food, toys, and other supplies to an HEB parking lot. We got out of the van and embraced. Tears on everyone's cheeks. That day we would say goodbye to our son, our children's brother. But, on that same day a mother and son were becoming a family again. A broken family became whole. A week before we would celebrate the birth of our Savior, we saw a family restored, sins forgiven, and a new beginning.
Our children miss their baby brother. We miss our son. We still talk to Bio Mom, receive pictures of our little man, and pray daily for them.

When we started the journey to becoming a foster family we never thought that we'd be strong enough to love Bio Mom. We thought that we'd be like other foster families and just love on the kids. But God had a different plan. God wanted to use our family to radically foster the "whole" family. God called us to sacrifice so a family could be restored. God called us to love the unloved. God called us to love even though it hurt.

Bio Mom shared with Jen many times that her experience growing up in the foster system was bad. She was scared when CPS took J-man. But, we showed her a love no one would. We fought for her and her son. The love and acceptance God showed us by sending His son enabled us to love and accept Bio Mom. Our love and acceptance gave her the strength to work so hard at getting her son back. Through this first foster experience, God taught us so many things about loving like He loves.

If you could tell a story about yourself in less than 3,000 words, what would it be about???? Go share it with someone.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A year ago.....

Hopefully today you will take time to remember what happened a year ago to a little country you may have never have thought twice about until that day. That little country experienced a tragedy like none we've ever seen or could truly imagine. A year later, that little country is still fighting for hope, life, freedom, and the basic things we take for granted everyday.

As we start a new year and as you take a moment remembering Haiti and a people who need our love, hope, and help, think about doing a couple of very easy things that could in return DO BIG THINGS.

1) Throw a Garage Sale for Orphans. You know all those old toys and other junk piled up in the garage or attic? Get some friends together and throw a garage sale party. Then donate all the money to an orphanage in Haiti, help build a water well, or help buy a new home for a family. So easy and so fun to see what God can do with your "junk." (We did one last year and will do another soon. It was so incredible.)


2) Sponsor a child. We sponsor a little girl from Zimbabwe and love her so much. We have her picture on our fridge (the only picture I allow on the front actually). She smiles at us every day and reminds us that we have chosen to live differently. We chose to give up a couple nights at chick-fil-a each month for her. We give up little luxuries so she can have shelter, food, school, and hope. She reminds my kids that when we pray for her every night, we pray that one day we get to meet her, here on earth and one day in heaven. She is part of our family. You can change a child's life too. And it ONLY costs $35 a month. Just look at those faces.....Sponsor a child from Zimbabwe or Haiti today.


3) Read this story of a young boy who started a movement, and be inspired to do something. Get excited and talk to other people. Listen to your heart. What is God stirring? I promise you that there is something. Pray....Pray...Pray.....and then DO SOMETHING!

I dare you.......(maybe even triple dog dare you)

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Years Resolutions...yeah who I am kidding?

I've never been one to do the New Years Resolution thing. (And even put off this post until the 2nd week of January. I'm such a rebel.) Probably because the only one I can think of each year is.... eating better.....and well that is just never gonna happen. (Even right now, I'm making cinnamon rolls......Mmmmm gooey CARB-A-LICIOUS cinnamon rolls.)

Instead I'm going to try to do "goals". You see apparently if you change the name to "goals" it makes some kind of difference. We shall see. Feel free to check up on me and see how I am doing.

1) Do at least one triathlon this year (maybe two) and beat my time from last year. (Ugh the one I'm going to do is in April this year. :gulp: ) And I want to be able to do 100 push-ups in a row without stopping. (Did I mention that I hate push-ups?)

2) Read/Study the Gospels and Epistles and journal everyday (well 5 days a week). Continue reading through "Bible Doctrine" By Wayne Grudem (that book is like the best Christian theology cliff notes version and it's still hard, but great read).

3) Read more. And that means reading fun books too (I can't remember the last time I read a book that was just silly and fun). And I want to read to the boys more this year. Thinking about reading "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". Any thoughts on that one?

4) Make friends and work on the "new" ones I have. This one sounds really sad, huh? But I haven't made the kind of friends I had in Keller. And I take all the responsibility on this one. It's really hard to make friends when you have a million young kids. (Wow any other Moms struggle with this one? I used to be SO social and outgoing)

5) Adam and I will continue to go, do, give, and obey whatever God calls us to this year. We will continue to let someone who is in ministry and can't have a full-time job live with us for free. And we will continue to foster as long as we feel like God wants us to. And who knows what else God will calls us to this year.....

That's it.

Well......secretly I should have others like; trying to dress like a 30 year old, become better at daily scheduling, become more daring with cooking, actually "cook", and get a hobby. But I'll stick with the 5 above.

What about you? Resolutions? Goals?
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