jo is three

I have no idea how it’s been 6 months since I’ve blogged? Life certainly has a way of doing that…though I think that when the sun comes out I tend to be sitting outside catching vitamin D and maybe forget about being the curator of my family. So much has transpired in the last 6 months that I’m not even sure where to begin. So. Much.

We’ve chosen to end our home schooling journey and embrace the public school life.

We’ve learned that we are not cut out to be landlords.

We’ve grieved losing our foster baby after 18 months of being his “middle parents”.

We’ve explored different trails and water holes.

We’ve had best friends come stay for a whole month.

We’ve welcomed a South Korean exchange student for the year.

We’ve deepened friendships.

And just yesterday we celebrated Jo’s birthday, raindrops and all. After all, we are true Oregonians, yes? While we held umbrellas over the cake and tried to keep the presents from melting, the 3 year olds ran through the water fountains, embracing the wet. Having a 3 year old keeps you young at heart; resisting the urge to want her to grow up too quickly, you say yes to things that are filled with joy. And because I am a black and white lover, all her images are in black and white. Timeless and emotion-filled. Happy birthday little girl.

 

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forts & watermelon

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Yesterday was filled with getting up at 3am to send our oldest to Nicaragua on a missions trip, phone calls, texts and a LOT of frustration between us and DHS. Some days can get you in a funk, only seeing the negative and in that moment I decided to grab my big camera and literally focus on the positive right in front of me.

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The here and now – my baby loving his watermelon. I’m not sure why…but he basically takes huge bites, chews and then spits it all out. And then repeats over and over. Causing a very large mess.

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But a cute one, none-the-less.

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Those teeth. And you like those watermelon juice, slicked back eye brows? Stylin for sure.

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Then there’s these two. We decided it was time to make some outside tents to read in, complete with our favorite Trader Joe’s lollipops. I love these moments. Little moments that make up our day, our day that can be full of white noise and distraction, are what I want to remember. Not the noise. Not the plans that failed. Not the holding pattern that our life seems to be in at the moment…

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but these little faces…

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these little toes…

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and surely the hot tub area out back with this sign we take very seriously.

Respite to the Rescue

A few days ago I put up a little something on FaceBook about respite care. I was so (happily) surprised at the number of messages I got in response from friends wanting to help! Thank you for your willing hearts! I thought it’d be easiest to address everyone’s questions via a post, instead of sending out several of the same messages separately.

Facts about Respite Care:

1. It’s NEEDED.

Foster families are (in general) pretty taxed in terms of both numbers (of children) and just the basic energy it takes to raise foster kids. They need breaks. Sometimes just for coffee. Sometimes for an actual date. Or maybe just a boring dentist appointment that they NEED to get to. Most foster families don’t have someone that is either willing or able to take their foster children as their own for a day or sometimes for the week. Having a break is sometimes exactly what is needed to regroup, re-energize and refocus on their job as foster parent. And knowing that you are a safe, loving, capable person, makes it SO much easier to hand over “their” baby/child to you.

2. Do I have to have special training?

Nope. You do need to fill out a simple form (as well as every adult that lives in your house) that is processed rather quickly in-house at the local DHS office. It’s basically a background check to be sure you are a safe person without a criminal history. You also need to have lived in the state for the last 5 years.

3. Can I do respite for one particular family or do I get put on a list for strangers to call?

That is your choice. If you have a foster family that needs help and your heart is to come along side and help in this way, then by all means YES! And if you have a heart to help whoever needs help – YES!

4. Can I choose to only take babies?

Sure. You can decide how you are best able to help. If taking one baby at a time is what you can handle, then that’s fabulous. If taking on the entire sibling group for the foster family is something you can do — SWEET! If you are a nurse and can take medically fragile babies — what a blessing! It’s difficult to find foster parents who are trained in the area of feeding tubes and oxygen masks, let alone respite providers!

5. Do I get paid for this?

Good question. You can choose to do it for free and bless your foster parent. But it’s not expected. You can work that out individually with each foster family. The honest truth, when you break down how much foster families get paid, it works out to be about $0.80-$1.05/hour, depending on the age of the child. Trust me when I say, foster parents don’t do this for the money. That is a myth and just plain ignorance on the part of anyone who has that opinion.

6. How long will I have the kids?

This will depend upon what your foster family is needing. I know of some foster families who had a special respite provider who would act like a Big Brother/Sister to older kids and had a scheduled time to come pick up a certain kiddo, take them out and hang out for a few hours once a week. It was a welcome reprieve for this family and something they could look forward to. But being available on an evening or weekend for the couple to have a date night? Priceless. Being available/willing to take a child (or children) for an entire week for a family to go on vacation, family reunion, job travel, etc.? Just amazing. {And please don’t judge the foster family for choosing to take or not take their foster child with them—this is very personal and you don’t know all the varying facts regarding each individual case.}

7. How do I start?!

Yay! If you are ready to start blessing some foster parents by being a respite provider, then simply send me a message (via FaceBook or email @ tnraichart@gmail.com) and include your address. I will send you the forms and get the process rolling!

April Happenings…

What a blessing we had in April – SO MUCH SUN! WE tried to take advantage of it all.

I’m so thankful for Ruby – she is such an amazing big sister. She runs from the bus, every day, straight to Jo’s waiting arms and picks her up and says, “Let’s go play!!” Her imagination still runs wild and full of innocent fun, that includes her 19 month old sister. And although we don’t have acres of forest to build all-natural forts, she improvised like a champ. Seeing her read to Jo makes my heart happy.DSC_5119This girl. Sticker on nose. Jumping like her brothers – crazy! I had fun playing with angles while they were jumping too. Basically by laying on the trampoline and shooting up, while they are jumping, it gives an impression that she is higher than she is. You should try it. DSC_5115…and Ruby had fun adding some moves to make it look even higher… DSC_5106Aunt Teala comes to visit! We visited the Portland Saturday Market {briefly, because let’s face it, 7 kids on a hot day walking through vendors without buying anything = crabby kids} before heading up to Sandy to see extended family. We sure do miss having her here. We’re hoping that she’ll be back in a few years…wink, wink. DSC_5073 DSC_5073-2Of course Jo loved being in her stroller and wanted to sit the whole time. Not.  DSC_5070 We also visited The Spoon Guy. Tad and I bought monogram spoon rings when were dating 20 years ago. It was fun to revisit them and see what new contraptions that have now…including knife headbands. They’ve been at the market for 40 years! Make sure to check them out if you’re down there.DSC_5061 DSC_5059Me and the gang. I love these little hoodlums. They contribute daily to my gray hairs, but I’d have it no other way.  DSC_5053While Teala was here, we got everyone else together for a family dinner. First time in YEARS that all 5 of us siblings were in the same place at the same time. Good times. DSC_4856 DSC_4852Jo has met Aunt Teala when she was born, but didn’t remember her. She warmed up to her in no time, of course. And baby got to meet her too.  DSC_4844 Sisters. As you can see, Jo is not lacking in personality.DSC_4838 Thanks to Groupon Jo gets to jump at the mini Pump it Up with her bestie, Treva. Both adopted just 8 weeks apart, they will have a special bond for years, I’m imagining. DSC_4825 DSC_4824 DSC_4823 The girl has fear, I tell you. No fear.

DSC_4816DSC_4821  DSC_4813 DSC_4812I love the simplicity of toddler play. No need for fancy, plastic toys. Just a bowl of water on a sunny day. DSC_4776Thanks, April, you treated us well.

Thanksgiving 2013

We ran away with some of our bestest friends this year for Thanksgiving. We celebrated early with family and then got ourselves 900 whole square feet of beach house in Rockaway and crammed 11 of us into it for 3 days. It was fabulous! And a little secret about the Oregon coast is that the weather is FAR better in the fall that the summer! Gorgeous sunny skies and no wind…which means FUN beach photos of course 🙂

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The gang.

DSC_1895 DSC_1891 Her first time running on the beach…of course she loved it and so did I. Such JOY coming from this girl.

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Ruby and Mitch are my two hunters. They will spend hours beach combing and showing me their finds. I know I only have a few more years of this with them, so I want to catch these memories and freeze them forever through the lens of my camera.

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My three girls. Teen, child and baby. Sigh….they grow up so darn fast.

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How on earth did she get taller than me? Yes, I hear you saying that I’m only 5’2″…but still!

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Life long friends for sure. They really have no choice…their moms are life long friends too.

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Super thankful for this girl. We’ve ridden the bus together as kids, grown up as “farmer’s daughters”, and now get to do adult life together, being just a 15 minute drive from each other.

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And this guy? I love him. He (who was only going to have 2 children when we married 18 yrs ago) is the best dad ever.

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DSC_1823Just one of those snapshots that makes me smile.

Wilson River + Birthday Day

Somehow we have a 14 year old now. I’ve heard for so many years that the days are long and the years are short…and it’s proving correct. To celebrate we spent the day with two other families floating lazily on the Wilson River AND had the place to ourselves.

untitled-128This girl. Starting high school this year! Artistic, LOVES fashion and makeup, and eats and breathes horses.

untitled-126Her with one of her best friends, Savannah. These girls – growing up, growing more beautiful every day.

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untitled-112Jo also adored eating rocks the entire day…building the immune system right there.

untitled-113Peas in a pod. That’s what these two girls are! Silly, screaming ninnies they were, floating down rapids all day.

untitled-133But look at the LOVE! Only one pair of river shoes between them, so they shared. That way they are each in equal pain while running on rocks. I adore these two’s friendship.

untitled-117And these boys? Hunting crawdads and whatever else they can find swimming or slithering the the general area…ALL day.

untitled-124Well…besides a few little cliff jumping breaks! Oh my boys.

untitled-130And my biggest boy? Yes, he’s riding the bull down the river with his compadre bringing in the rear.

untitled-23Then we were off to have dinner and cake at grandma’s house. Grandpa’s birthday is a day before Kayla’s so we combine most years….

untitled-17After a long day at the river Kayla was having a hard time getting all her candles out…it’s hard getting older and having SO many candles 🙂

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Such a fantastic day.

Hot Tubbin’

The reason I chose the title “Real Life Raicharts” for this blog is because we’re pretty crazy at our house and that title just fits our family. I LOVE all the blogs that our there that show such peaceful, tranquil homes and I sometimes often dream of that and SOMETIMES have that, but this blog is for the people out there that have crazies living in their house like I do 🙂

Last night Daddy and the boys decided to go hot tubbin’ and intermittently do snow angels at the same time. Fun stuff and I totally remember doing this at my Aunt’s house when we used to visit her in Sisters Oregon. Now, I’m happy to watch and giggle from the window and take a few shots before quickly closing the door and getting warm again.

I love that Tad has so much fun with the boys and I pray that they remember these memories of their daddy being crazy fondly….yes, he did do a few snow angels, but I promised not to post those pics 🙂

Come on, you know you want to try it!