Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Xander {Our Lasts...}

This Roller-Coaster Life has been EMOTIONAL in the EXTREME lately.
And, just to forewarn you,
this post is going to be EMOTIONAL in the EXTREME.
I cried my way through writing it.
Why? Well...

This past weekend was our family's last weekend with Xander.

Mommy Candace did her best to make their last few days memorable
and as normal as possible under the circumstances.
But naturally it was difficult.

 Mommy Candace was generous enough to let me pick Xander up 
from his last day of nursery at church on Sunday.
I made sure I memorized the moment.
I have a permanent picture in my head of his little round face
gazing up at me expectantly when peeked in the nursery door at him.
And I'll never forget how he snuggled into my arms 
when I picked him up.
I needed that "normal" moment to say goodbye.
This is a really bad photo, but it was our last photo together...so...I had to share it.

I, and really our entire family, basically said goodbye all day.
We all have little moments from the day
that we will never forget.

Xander's 1st Birthday/Farewell Party was held at the Pizza Ranch.
 And, yes, I took a TON of photos
and will be sharing them with you at a later date.
I'm a pathological picture-taker. 
It's who I am...and it's what I do.
I was privileged to buckle Xander in his car seat 
for his ride home from the Pizza Ranch.
I treasure those "normal" memories now
...as all my family does.

But we all still felt the sucker-punch of the loss
when it came to last hugs and kisses.
I personally felt that I had left my guts there on the floor 
of the Pizza Ranch when I was pulling out of the parking lot.

 It made me think of a poem I had read
about a mother wishing she had treasured the small moments
of her children's lives more than she did.
Because one day, she woke up and realized 
she had missed the last crawl,
the last bottle, the last time being called "Mommy"...
Our family didn't miss the lasts with Xander.
We noted them.
We stored them away in special places in our hearts
- never to be forgotten
In those final moments that he was ours,
 we all held Xander closer,
hugged him tighter,
 and kissed him longer.
'Cause, barring a miracle, we knew it was our last chance.

I've always loved kids and babies in particular.
Ask anyone who knows me,
I've ALWAYS got a kid with me.
I'm constantly carrying one around church with me
just for the fun of it.
Just for the chance to cuddle for a few moments.
But it was different with Xander.

He wasn't just another baby to me.
He became a part of me.
I don't know when it happened.
Maybe it was part of taking his photos so often
(I was privileged to take his newborn, 3 month, 
7 month, and finally his First Birthday photos). 

Maybe it was spending last Christmas Eve and Christmas Night 
with him up at Children's Hospital of Illinois 
when he was so ill with respiratory issues.
I stayed those evenings so Mommy Candace could spend 
a little bit of holiday time with her other babies, 
her husband, and her extended family.
I spent hours alternating rocking him and reading to him those nights.
You might think it strange,
but I read Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol to him.
And I'm so glad I did.

Maybe it was taking him home to my house after a family birthday party 
so Mommy Candace could take her other babies swimming in the hotel pool.

Or maybe it was just one of the thousands of times
he threw up on me and then gazed into my eyes
as if to say, "Eww...that was yucky." :)

I don't know when it happened.
But somewhere along the line Xander stopped being
Candace's foster baby and he became my baby too.
 Xander changed me.
And I'll never be the same.

Mommy Candace and the rest of our family
are doing as well as can be expected.
In fact, Candace amazes me.
Xander was removed from her home at approximately 6pm yesterday
and she was at church worshipping her heart out at 7pm.
Honestly, as torn up as I feel at this moment,
I know it's worse for her.
And I don't know if I could keep going 
the way that she has if I were in her shoes.

This morning, her Facebook post put a smile on my face
and a a song in my heart. 
She said, "Can't stop singing...I call you faithful,
your name is faithful, you are so faithful to me. 
I call you faithful, your name is faithful. 
Faithful you are and faithful you'll be!"
She was speaking of God and His faithfulness
on the morning after having her youngest child removed from her home.
As if that isn't enough,
she just Facebook-ed me to check to see how I was doing...
Yeah...she amazes me.

I would like to believe I would be speaking of God and His faithfulness
if I was in Candace's place but I'm just not sure.
I've been questioning God as it is.
"God, are You sure this Your Will?
'Cause it doesn't seem right.
God, I know You are Sovereign and that You don't make mistakes,
but this can't be right."

I don't understand what He doing.
And I definitely don't like it.
But He's always come through before.
He's always been faithful.
So I'm choosing to trust Him.
"Jesus, I put Xander in Your Hands.
I know You'll take care of Him.
I know You've got a plan for His life.

Father, our family needs Your comfort right now.
Please send Your Extraordinary Peace to us.
Remind us Who You are
and how much You love us and Xander.
Help us to trust You when we feel like we can't anymore.
Thank You, Jesus.
I love You."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Spooky Fun with the Kiddos! {Just in Time for Halloween!}

Good Afternoon, Everyone!

Anyone who knows me,
knows that I'm not really that into Halloween.
But Halloween, not so much.
No particular reason, 
it just doesn't get to me.
Even when I was a kid
dressing up for Halloween just wasn't my thing.

However, working with children,
I have found that I am the Odd Man Out on this.
Most "normal" people are ALL ABOUT HALLOWEEN.
So what is a "cool" Y-Achievement Educator to do?
Join in the fun!
And let me just tell you,
we had some Spooky, MESSY, Creative Fun yesterday! :)
We made "Handprint Spiders"!

Take a look!

I thought they turned out SUPER CUTE!
Now, let me just say...
my LEAST favorite thing about powder paint
is that it is, well, powdery...

I was carrying a cup of the black paint WITHOUT WATER added
and had just said to the children,
"Everybody watch out! I'm carrying paint and I don't want to spill it."
I was headed to the table to take off my WHITE scarf
(Seriously, Sarah D? You work with children and you wore a white scarf?
THAT'S just ASKING for trouble!
I know, I know!)
Just then, an adorable Kindergartener rushed right in front of me
and bumped the cup of black powder paint 
with her flying pigtails. 
You know what happened...
Black powder paint on my white scarf! UGH!

*Sigh* What can I say?
It's just another bumpy ride on this Roller-Coaster Life!
But I'm hoping against hope that the paint will come out...
I love that scarf...*little tear*.
On the upside, I think my black eye from surgery last week
is FINALLY clearing up! :)

Aaaannnndddd, my precious Star, Xander, turned ONE this week!
I absolutely cannot believe it!
It has gone by so fast!

In other news, 
I drove to the YMCA from Thomas Jefferson 
IN THE SNOW this morning...

Can I just say...
I love snow as much as the next girl,

October is meant for gorgeous leaves and crisp blue skies
and hoodies and frosty mornings 
and pumpkin spice lattes
and bonfires...

Okay, I had my rant...
Speaking of GORGEOUS LEAVES...
look what me and the kiddos did with some 

 Well, technically, I made them...
the kids just helped me come up with ideas.
Hence the "Uncle Grandpa" one...
Yeah, I didn't trust the children with my new METALLIC SHARPIES...

Can you tell I really like the "Hello, October" one? :)

Also, I wish my birthday was in the fall!
I would TOTALLY LOVE and ACCEPT a birthday leaf
in lei of a birthday card! :)

What Festive Fall and Spooky Halloween Crafts are you doing with your kids?

Monday, October 21, 2013

LOVE...{Makes a Family}

Good Monday Morning, Dear Ones!
I hope this finds you doing well.
Personally, the weekend went WAY TOO FAST for me.
and I'm already looking forward to going to bed tonight.
BUT...I wanted to share something with you all first.

You all remember, Candace?

From her guest post earlier this year called "A Mother's Love"?
She told an AMAZING story of Love and Acceptance
that brought an unmatched number of readers to this Roller-Coaster Life.
She has a MARVELOUS way with words
and a heart the size of Texas!
(Ask anyone...it's a FACT!)

In that post, I followed up her story by letting you all know
what was coming for the DePinto Family:
the return of Xander.

 to his biological mother.
In that post, I shared that this would occur on Oct 1, 2013.
That date, of course, has passed and, for the moment,
Xander is still with us
(due to some delay that I do not know all the details of).

However, we have receive news that this coming weekend,
Oct. 26-27, will be Xander's last days with us.
He returns to his biological mother
full-time on Monday, Oct 28th.

Naturally, this has, once again, caused rolling emotions in all of us,
but none more than Mommy Candace.
But she wants the world to know,
she may be an emotional wreck right now
and, yes, she is hurting at the moment,
but she trusts her God!
In spite of the fact that she could potentially be
 losing her baby...
she trusts God with that baby!

The one she has cared for, in sickness and in health,
since practically the first day of his life.
My words are not sufficient to express the sadness
that Mommy Candace is living with right now.
But that's the point...
she's living with it. She's dealing with it.
She's trusting God and His Ways through it.

Xander's Departure is NOT the only thing
the DePinto Family is dealing with at this time...

Oct. 7, 2013 was a VERY BRIGHT DAY in their lives.
You see, they are potentially losing one child,

but they're getting to keep another one...FOREVER.

OCTOBER 7, 2013,
Mr. Ruben received a new last name.
That's right! Mr. Ruben was ADOPTED

and no one can take him from us! :)
I was privileged to be the photographer for this WONDEFUL EVENT
and will be sharing those photos at a later time.

For now though, I wanted to share some new photos of this Beautiful Family.

So please enjoy these photos that I was HONORED to take!
These photos are proof that LOVE Makes a Family
not just blood :).

The Family that Plays together...Stays together! <3

Prayers for Candace and the entire DePinto Family
would be appreciated during this difficult time.
Words of encouragement are welcomed here
and on It's a Roller-Coaster Life's Facebook Page.

Thank you all for your prayers and compassion.
And, of course, thank you for stopping by!
I always appreciate your presence
in this Roller-Coaster Life! :)