Foster care and the biological parents.

Its easy to judge someone when you don't know their story, their struggle or what keeps them up at night. It is easy to assume or think the worst about people. That's what our generation does best. We don't give people the benefit of the doubt anymore. We don't offer a helping hand, only a hand holding a camera directed right at you at the worst moment.

I'm talking about the biological parents of our kiddos in foster care.

Some of them have done the unthinkable, the unfathomable. They don't deserve these precious souls. They don't deserve their smiles, their laughter or their love. But the other ones, they have made mistakes. They have lived their life the only way they know how, the only way they were shown. They have fallen in with the wrong crowd, the only ones that would have them. They have made mistakes and they are paying for them. Ideally, this would be an awakening, jump starting their will to live. Ideally.

When we decided to become foster parents, the whole system was very intriguing. We paid attention in every class, talked with numerous foster parents and discussed how we thought it would be. No one can prepare you for how it really is. No one can prepare you for meeting your first foster child. Waking up at night with them, bathing them, clothing them and nurturing them. No one can tell you how you will adapt to the change, or if you will adapt at all. Or furthermore, how your biological kids will adapt, or will adapt at all. They can not prepare you first meet with the biological parents, whether its by accident or on purpose. It will not prepare you on how those feelings will make you feel. 

After every training class, BJ and I would talk about that nights topics and how we felt about them. The thought of exchanging phone numbers with a biological parent, having the chance to meet them and even the thought of supervising visits ourselves felt foreign and absolutely insane! I mean, these people were crazy, right?! Dangerous, duh! They (DFACS) promote and encourage partnership parenting: biological parents and foster parents working together. "Yeah, okay. Sounds good but yeah, not so sure about it." was our thinking. Of course, everyone is an expert and has an opinion on things they know nothing about.... we were no different.

During our 2nd visitation for the babe, I was not prepared for love I felt for this woman standing before me, for my desire to help her and be a support system for her. It did not prepare me for the need to grab her into the biggest bear hug and tell her I was rooting for her, we all are. It did not prepare me for the tears between her and I as she handed her baby back to me, to care for while she got her life together. 

You guys. Foster care is no joke. You want to feel alive? Foster. Make a difference in not only a child life, but an adults? Foster. Leave your best mark on this world and leave it a little better than you found it? 


*Fostering is not for everyone. Its truly a calling because it is not easy. If you, or anyone you know is interested, feel free to hit me up. Want to help but can't foster? Contact your local agency to volunteer. Help educate by sharing post and learning more. Knowledge is power and kindness makes the world go around. 
Thank you!

Blood Mountain, Georgia. Our 10 year wedding anniversary hike.

"In every walk of nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir 

FINALLY, we are going to attempt to catch up on our hiking adventures on the blog for all you locals wanting a place to get outdoors! First up on the list...
Elevation 4,458
Apart of the Blue Ridge Moutains
One heck of a view! Highest peak on the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail and the 6th tallest mountain in Ga.
Hike- Moderate 2.1 miles to the top.
There is a store called Mountain Crossing at Neel's Gap that runs through the AT towards Blood Mountain. Parking for the Blood Mountain trail is a 1/4 of a mile from there, on the left.
12471 Gainesville Hwy
Blairsville Ga 30512
We have done this hike before with the whole family, (including an 11 year old, 3 year old and 15 month old at the time) The hike is fun and definitely not boring. There is flat sandy trail, boulder field, stone steps and lots of trees/flowers and ferns to admire on the way.
 This view is priceless and worth every bead of sweat and scream of a muscle
"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness." -John Muir


Make sure, while passing through the bolder fields, that you follow the white trail markers to stay on the trail!

 Hiking with kids is totally doable, just know your child and know your limits. Our 3 year old loves to be outdoors and explore, but hates structured hikes. He will ride in a backpack toddler carrier or on Bjs shoulders. The 18 month old rides in a toddler carrier on my back. Of course, this particular hike was much more enjoyable and went much quicker when it was just us two, as oppose to having all the kiddos but we love making those memories and watching little minds explore.
There are 3 balds (clear places for the view) before you reach the summit, so keep going!

Summit! This is the shelter at the very top of the mountain.

There is a hiker sign in sheet in a protective Tupperware.

Married 10 years on 9/8/2017!

We found this letter in there as well. I thought it was very special. Of course, we aren't sure if its been placed there before the proposal or maybe an anniversary hike like ours.

Boulder hoppin' on the summit.

"The mountains are calling and I must go" -John Muir
"Keep close to nature's heart.... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." -John Muir
'Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." -John Muir
Happy 10 years babe! I love you.

Foster care is an inconvenience.

While I was laying in bed with my 18 month old while he breastfed, the 3 year old was pacing the floor and our newborn foster babe screeching in my husbands arms I realized, foster care is an inconvenience. 

And as people, we rarely like to be inconvenienced. 

You never know when you are going to get called to duty and you always will have plans to cancel. Baseball games or date night will be missed due to new placements, sleep will be a thing of the past because these children are in brand new places and scared out of their mind. They will need reassurance, especially at 3am. Caseworkers will call, stop by and need documents sealed, signed and delivered. Visitation with biological parents will occur with no regards to your schedule. False information about the child placed in your care will be given, hopefully unintentionally. It's a HUGE inconvenience. 

But guess what I'm going to say? 
It's worth it. So far, it's worth it. Any love and safe haven we can give a child is worth every tear, every heart break and every inconvenience. 
This newborn baby, that has thrown us for a loop, needs love, skin to skin and a bond that our family can give, for however long it's needed. Today, we are family. Today, it is worth it. 

Honest Motherhood: I am human.

Honest motherhood = Real life play room at The Beggs Cottage

With all the pristine small squares that host our life on social media, I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to the real me... not the brave and selfless future foster mother, not the perfect wife of the hilarious Bj, not the certified lactation counselor who has a fierce passion for breastfeeding and certainly not the laid back, "it is what it is" mother of 3 rambunctious boys.

That brave and selfless future foster mama is scared to death. I will get too attached. My heart will break into a million pieces when the system fails them, because its inevitable. My body will crumble when that small child yells for me because I represent security but by the court, I have to let them go for just a little bit. My children will need help processing what is going on, why we have a new family member and then why they had to leave. I will question this journey. I will question my worth and my ability. But I will do it because its our calling.

I lack patience, a forgiving nature and remembering to breathe sometimes. I have meltdowns and forget to "go with the flow". I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and label my day as the crappiest ever, all before 7am. I am not always positive and I judge people wrongly. I enjoy hiking but not in the heat. I enjoy camping but hate bugs and sand in the tent. I like to eat food but hate making it and hate cleaning it up even more. I have had to shut myself outside to have a moment before I screamed because the kids (OR ME!) were way to emotional. I yell, scream and slam doors. I make bad decisions. I stay up way to late at night thinking of all the crazy things that I have no control over. We have debt... welcome to America. We have come to the realization that I just can't cook. I can make a mean, magical sandwich though. I have no will power or discipline. I will always eat the cake.

I attempt to forgive, but never forget. I don't like gossip. I can't hang with bad vibes and I watch people to closely. I am way to sensitive, get my feelings hurt quicker than I like and I give myself a pep talk in my head every morning. I thrive when I have something to look forward to. When I post inspirational post on social media, 10 times out of 10, its for me. I love to connect to other moms and I live for making legit friendships. I am always changing and evolving into the person I aspire to be.

I have also realized that when it comes to my kids being treated fairly or safety being a concern, mama bear will come out, has no filter and gives zero f*cks.

We are all human. No one is perfect. No one has it all together, if they claim they do they are full of it. But you know what the difference is? I forgive myself. Daily. If I mess up, I apologize, move forward and do better. I am on a voyage of self discovery and self improvement.... join me?

Our first 'YES" of foster care...

So Wednesday afternoon I received a call from our caseworker. She has her own ring tone so even from the other side of the house, I knew who it was. My first thought was "Heck yah! We've been approved!!" Her first words were "You haven't been approved yet, BUT..." My second thought, "Well this ought to be interesting."

We were asked to provide respite care for a local foster mama from Friday after school till Saturday evening.... for 4 boys! She originally had asked for the younger 2 but had stated they had to find placement for the older 2 as well. Bj and I thought, "What the heck? Bring it on!" so we said yes! We could handle anything for 24 hours and it would be an awesome learning experience for us and a huge favor for this sweet, sweet foster mama.

The next day Bj tells me he will be late coming home from work Friday AND that he had to work Saturday morning. He hasn't worked a weekend all summer long and they had to pick THAT Saturday to pick it back up. Funny. Ha. {Shout out to my ma who came to the rescue or I am sure I would have been hanging from the chandeliers by time he came home from work, and we don't even have chandeliers.)

What is Respite care? It is short term or emergency care provided to a foster family, usually by a foster family, for foster children. In foster care, you have to jump through hoops to keep these children so when you need someone to fill in for a day or two, you go to other foster families to keep it simple.

So Friday comes and I am cooking their favorite meal for supper, sloppy joes. (How awesome is this!?) and they pull up. Out come our boys for the next 24 hours. Big E is 11, F is 9, A is 2 and baby E is 8 months. The foster mama hops out of the gigantic foster mobile looking graceful and frantic all at the same time, having a few more stops before she heads south for her meeting tomorrow. We exchange basics to-do's and then she pulls out of the drive way and I cant help but be honest... two thoughts went through my mind. "WAIT! Come back!!!" and "Shit just got real." as I am standing there with Bear on my hip and a baby carrier in the crook of my elbow.

But you know what? We managed. Hell, we rocked it! I remember reading someone had commented "Oh I bet yall had so much fun!" I laughed out loud. You know what?  It was rough. It was super crazy and we pretty much just survived. Someone was always getting a snack or we were talking about the next meal or we were cleaning up said meal/snack. It was pure CHAOS but we SURVIVED!

We chose to do this knowing that this was going to be a learning experience for us as parents, as foster parents and our kids. We would be able to see what we could handle and how our kids would handle it. It was a blessing y'all.

What we learned: Bear loves to hug babies, not gently. He literally bear hugs their neck and they tumbling down. Oh yes, it happened, more than once but baby E was a trooper y'all. Ramsey loves and thrives in the chaos. He shared his toys,said please and thank you and really bonded more with F, the 9 year old than the 2 year old. He ran around, taking in all the changes with stride. I was so proud. Ayden was looking kind of crazy after the 2 older ones took over his room but quickly readjusted his outlook and took to the oldest, E. They played video games and rode the skateboard outside. I have to say out of all the things, Ayden impressed me most. He did so well with the change and was so very helpful. I told him over and over how proud and thankful I was of him, which was very important to me.

All in all, I think that fostering is going to work out so well for our family. Whatever life throws our way, we will take it and work with it. We can adjust as a family, bend and not break. Adapt to the change and thrive. I could not be prouder of my boys and the journey our family is embarking on. Its going to be a beautiful story yall. Stay tuned, these blank pages aren't going to fill themselves.

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” - THE Bruce Lee, Y'all.

As of today, 8/22, we are waiting on the very last stamp of approval and we will have an open home you guys.<3 p="">

#BreastIsBest: This lactation counselors take on this campaign.

Breast is best. (It is)

Fed is best. (It, also, is) 

Sancti-mommy wars. (It's a thing, y'all) 

It all begins with whether or not you breastfeed. If you are, you want attention and you think you are better than formula feeding moms. If you didn't breastfeed, then you feel like your constantly being judged at how you feed your baby, whether it's by choice or forced. Either way, it's a lose lose situation by moms judging other moms..... and if your breastfeeding, the prudes judging us nudist. 

If you don't want to breastfeed, that's perfectly fine. Your choice. Own it. Say it. Formula is fine, we are glad it is here. It has saved many babies. It has its fair share of problems (Stomach issues, especially gas/constipation and spitting up which results in many formula changes which results in more stomach issues... I could go on) What I don't understand is the ones who don't want to admit they didn't want to breastfeed and name problems (latch/milk supply etc) which results in new mamas thinking and assuming they are going to have the same problems because that's all they see "Well I tried to breastfeed but....." 

Im tired of tip toeing around this infant feeding issue and the only way to overcome it is to hit it head on... so here we go. Now I know, at this point in my post, I may have some pretty red faced mamas. Hear me out here..... seriously, don't X me out just yet. 

My job is to help support and educate on breastfeeding. That's my JOB. My PASSION. I wasn't born to do this, the passion was created with the birth of each my boys. So let me remind you a little of my breastfeeding journey then we will get back to my rant.... Ayden, my first born, was breastfed for maybeeeeee a week? I'm honestly not sure. I did in the hospital and went home breastfeeding only (I think) Around week 1 post partum I remember thinking, "I need to pump but how do you pump and still feed the baby? Won't there be anything in there?" Because he cluster fed so I knew that once I pumped, he would be hungry again and then I'd feed him that bottle because obviously, my boobs would be empty and then there went that bottle for work. WTH?! Little did I know. (Pssst, lactating woman's breast are never empty. mind=blown.) So anyways, I switched to formula because of that and going back to work at 2 weeks post partum. (Don't get me started on maternity leave in this country) With the impending birth of Ramsey, I was determined to breastfeed. I knew the benefits and I wanted to give him the best. I went in knowing it would be hard at first but it just had to get easier. In my mind, there was no alternative. We succeeded to 21 months. Bear is still nursing at 18 months with no end in sight. It was hard in the beginning, I was exhausted. Guess what? It had nothing to do with breastfeeding. #WelcomeToMotherhood. You MAY get a full night of sleep when you're 50. 

So, back to it.... why do you care why people state they didn't breastfeed?! I'm glad you asked (or thought) it. Let me explain.... Again, my job is to educate and support a breastfeeding mother, starting during pregnancy. It's very difficult to have a young mother trust me over her friends that are telling her how much they hated (or loved!) breastfeeding, that their milk never came in, it was super painful or whatever the reason was. I can say all this because I know the facts. Our bodies make milk. It's science. Whether you plan to breastfeed or not, you will produce milk. A pregnant woman starts making colostrum (the first milk) around week 20 of pregnancy. Once the baby is born and the placenta is delivered, the transition to mature "white milk" starts to occur. It's science. Very rarely, with extreme medical cases, will a woman NOT produce milk. Usually, we know in advance what we are up against. It takes a good 3-5 days, sometimes even 6 days for your milk to "come in". Before then, the colostrum and transitioning milk is enough and PERFECT for a newborn. The more the baby come to the breast and breastfeeds the faster that transition will occur. It's science. A rule of thumb on milk production, the more it's demanded (actively breastfeeding/pumping/hand expression) the more your body supplies it. Supply and demand. It's literally that simple. Seriously. Again, unless you have a serious medical condition like PCOS, serious hormone deficiency etc. When you add a bottle of formula consistently or skip nursing sessions/pumping sessions you are telling your body that it can "lay low" and not produce as much at that time, hence supply depletion. Again, It's science. 

Painful breastfeeding? First off, I'm so sorry! I know that sucks and I commend you for pushing through it, whether you made it all the way through or endured it for as long as you could. Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, at all. It's uncomfortable at first, maybe a bit sore but PAIN? No. Bad latch (possible lip or tongue tie) and bad positioning are most likely the problem and simply looking up breastfeeding, on a accredited website, to watching a video OR contacting your local breastfeeding counselor/consultant will help you tremendously! 

Baby won't latch? There are some cases that we have seen that babies refuse to latch and I have seen some that latch after several day or latch right from the start. Every baby is different and every nursing journey is different. Baby's come out knowing how to suck (remember that ultrasound picture of your baby sucking its thumb?) but breastfeeding is an act that takes 2. Mom and baby. It sometimes takes time, patience, practice and a little bit of love ;) If at first you have a hard time getting baby to latch, take a deep breath and try again. Try a new position, try skin to skin and baby self attaching, try a quiet room after all the family and friends have had their hands on baby, try hand expression and tempting baby.....I can go on. Does it always work? No, but that's when you get down and back to the basics with your lactation lady. 

Let me add, that any breastfeeding is better than none. Obtaining your personal breastfeeding goal is amazing, no matter how long that goal is/was. If you didn't want to breastfeed, fine. It's all good and was your decision to make for you and babe. Own it. If you have a medical issue and your milk didn't come in, it's okay! Say it. If your baby refused to latch, I'm so sorry. It's okay. Say it. If you aren't sure if your milk ever came in or you had to go back to work early and it was easier to formula feed, that's okay! Say it. If you feel you never had the support or education needed, that's okay. Say it. We are still learning new things about breastfeeding every day. We know more now than even a few years ago. Science and research are amazing things. 

Why do we care whether or not one breastfeeds? It's a public health thing. The more research being done shows us more and more the long term effects of breastfeeding. Less stomach issues as we age. Less ADD/ADHD in children. Less diabetes and obesity as we age. Less childhood and maternal cancers. It's a public health issue now and breastfeeding shows to be all around healthier for mom and baby (long after baby is weaned) which lowers medical cost and much much more. Breastfeeding increases skin to skin time which releases the feel good hormone of love and bonding (oxytocin) which helps the brain function at its optimal level for both mom and baby. We know these things now. When we know better, we do better. It's just that simple. 

The reason woman get so touchy on this subject (and other motherly subject) is because mom guilt sucks. So yes, I believe that Breast is best because it is. Feeding organic food and lean meats, no sugars or sodas is best as well. Do we go that far and only have organic food in our kitchen? Lord no. Ive got macaroni and cheetos coming out of my ears in my pantry. Ill speak it. No shame and no apologies. When you feel like you have screwed up or chose a less than stellar parenting choice or path, in any aspect of parenting, the feeling is awful and we automatically hit pissed off/mamabear mode. I feel you and I understand. I breastfeed but I don't cloth diaper. We don't start solids until 6/7 months but drink cows milk vs almond milk. I don't feed my kids organic food nor home school or private school them. We don't listen to classical music or even brush teeth everyday. (I'm working on that last part!) We have plenty of screen time and I probably don't protect them with sunscreen as well as I should. Im a mother and I am human. We do what works for us and fits with our family dynamics. YOU do the same. You do you boo boo. You. do. you. 

So breastfeeding is my passion and to share it, support it and help educate on it is my thing. So thank you, so very much, for reading to the very end. I know it was long and I appreciate YOU and your support in everything my bunch does. If you don't agree with what I've said, please do so respectively as I would show the same to you. 

Disclaimer: I am not asking anyone to sugar coat their answer or themselves when talking about their feeding choices. If you are rolling your eyes reading this then fine. Post what you want :) However, for those of us that like to better ourselves and look at things from a different perspective then I hope this helped. 

Fostering the new parents

I was having a nice little discussion with a new internet friend from Kentucky. They are childless, not by choice, and are entering into this crazy thing called foster care. One of her concerns got me thinking.... "I'm just nervous because we have never been parents before. I just hope we get the hang of it in a timely manor." 

How hard it must be for a new mother through foster care. Love makes a family. We know this, but how hard it must be to go from 0 kids to a 5 year old trauma kid, a newborn having withdrawals or a toddler who throws mega fits because they are angry and don't know why. 

When you are pregnant, you have 9 months to prepare, to swoon, fall in love and read all the books. With fostercare, you have a few months of paperwork and some classes but really, you have about an hour to get prepared for that first placement. You have an hour to grab formula and diapers or a hello kitty blanket and pajamas for the new toddler coming in. You have no idea their favorite foods, if they brush their teeth at night or in the morning or even at all. You have no idea what may be a trigger for them, if they like to cuddle or what calms them.You have no idea what they've seen and how they feel. And you have nothing to compare it too. 

My kids are perfectly normal, happy and healthy kids. They have had zero trauma in their life. They are privileged Americans and get 100% of our attention. They still act out. The toddlers still throw tantrums like a pro and chunk things at the walls . They still refuse to eat foods that they deemed their favorite just the day before. They act ungrateful sometimes and that life is soooo boring. That's normal behavior. I know this because I live it. I have those experiences in my pocket to compare when a trauma child comes into our home and acts out. It's going to happen. But what about these new mamas, jumping into this thing and preparing their self and their family to go with the flow? The ones that trust in this journey that what happens is par for the course and they vow to be along for the ride for the greater good?

I bow to you, strong mama & dads. Can we be friends?