Movie Review: Instant Family

If you have not heard, there is a new film in theaters that is causing quite a stir: Instant Family.  It is about Pete and Ellie Wagner deciding to become foster parents and end up adopting a sibling group of three.  Mark Wahlberg is a fabulous lead actor, as always, Rose Byrne is hilarious, and the child actors get a big debut with these two. But let’s go into detail, since the theme is foster care! **Please note that there are MANY spoilers!**

As you know, Captain and I have been fostering through kinship since June.  This weekend we handed her over to my grandparents, due to my upcoming delivery and other issues we were having.  But we have had a real taste of foster care that we don’t plan to give up.  It’s not easy but it is very rewarding, for everyone involved.

The movie begins with Pete (Wahlberg) and Ellie (Byrne) who are in their thirties, happy not to have children because of their thriving business flipping homes.  Feeling pressured from Ellie’s family, they decide to begin fostering.  The choice to begin fostering a child(ren) is not easy, and they portray that in hilarious ways: the “yes, I’m all in!” to “I’m not ready for this”, extended family being fake supportive, and how they get their first placement.  I will say: we do not have adoption fairs!! That was weird and inaccurate for PA but it’s how they came to foster a sibling group of three. 

Initially, reunification was not a goal for the children, as mother was an active drug user currently incarcerated.  But when the family starts to finally have a routine and normalcy, mom comes back into the picture.  The Wagner’s then need to adjust to the emotional disruption that each visit comes with.  Instant Family shows how an act as simple as brushing hair can be a trigger for a child, and how you should be willing to try and break through that barrier.

In the end, the children were supposed to be legally reunified with their mother, but their mother decided she just wasn’t ready and began to use drugs again.  Pete and Ellie were so happy to adopt the children, but it came with baggage, as they know now. 

I give this movie a 9.5/10 when it comes to realistic points of view.  When you finally step into the foster care world, it is HARD. It tests your marriage and your resiliency. But it is so rewarding.  Of course there are times when you say, “We should just send he/she back.” But the love and time that you have put into the child means so much more to you (usually). And the struggle of dealing with reunification.. it’s real.  You want to protect this child(ren) but legally there’s not much you can do.  And it’s tough.  But you have to believe that the court is acting in the best interest of the child(ren).

I did not pick a good day to see this movie, since we had just given our baby girl to my grandparents, so I did cry A LOT! but it’s because of the truth in each situation. The feeling of finally being recognized! It is a great movie shedding light on situations NO ONE ever talks about.

Pains in the Belly

Boogs tried to kill me in his process of being born.  Hear me out on this.. because you’re really not going to believe it by the end.

The beginning part of my Boogie pregnancy was beautiful, bumpies every week, very little to complain about symptom wise, and he wasn’t overly busy (as far as I remember!) in my belly! Come week 30, I got a reality check… I had gone from measuring RIGHT on target each week to measuring 4 weeks ahead.  Something was wrong.  They had me do a 3-hour glucose test– and lo-and-behold I had severe gestational diabetes that was going unmonitored.  I also began having contractions. (No, not Braxton Hicks, real life, freak my dr out contractions.) 

At my 32 week check-up, the swelling was so bad that I had grown out of my shoes completely and looked like an elephant.  Insert diagnosis of preeclampsia.  We had weekly check-ups now, non-stress tests (NSTs) to monitor my contractions, and I was finally seen at a nutritionist for my sugars.  My contractions were every 2-4 minutes, very regular, but not causing dilation, so there was not much they could do for me. 

At 36 weeks I was going to be put on insulin because my sugars were just getting out of control. THAT DAY I went to the hospital because the contractions were so bad, and the medicine they’d tried was NOT working to stop them.  So sure I was finally going into labor, once again, they told me no.  But my blood pressure was rising and our OB made the decision to induce me. 

Forty hours later, I was only five centimeters dilated.  Yes, it’s half way there, but FORTY FREAKING HOURS! I finally caved and asked for the epidural.  They gave me 5 more hours to try and dilate (supposedly, after the first 5cm it should be easy peasy…).  I stayed at 5cm.  OB decided to do an emergency C-section. “Normally,” he says, “I would not have let you go past 12 hours.  But you were adamant and your blood pressure has remained stable.  It’s time to have this baby.” Thirty minutes later, Derek Mason was in this cruel world.  He had to go to the NICU (remember he’s still premie status even though he weighed 8lb 9oz) And I started to bleed out, Captain says he saw me fading in and out.  It took two bags of blood and lots of unmentionable things happening to me to get me stabilized.  I don’t remember much from it all, but I can’t even imagine.

I still had not seen him by 7pm.  But they finally wheel me in and I got to see that beautiful face.  (Insert current tears thinking about it all!) The first things I hear from EVERYONE?! “He looks just like Captain!!!” *Insert their happy tears, while I cry my eyes out*  He thrived, of course, and I got better.  But those six weeks before his birth scarred all of us. We weren’t even going to have another of our own… but adoption is expensive, and I was so sure I’d be healthier this time.

I am “healthier” with Tri-Baby.  I definitely don’t have diabetes (my OB is so impressed! and so am I… carbs are my LIFE)  I’m just about 30 weeks along and there is no swelling, I can even keep my rings on at this point!  I had an ultrasound yesterday, for fear of polyhydramnios but my levels came out fine.  I am starting to have contractions again, but I know there is nothing they can do for me and so I’ll suffer for now. 

I am waiting for “that” shoe to drop though… crazy as it sounds, I FEEL like something is bound to happen. People that I’ve said this to have said:  “Haven’t you been through enough this year?  I think you’ve suffered enough.” I still have the feeling though. I count my blessings and praise God for working on my behalf… but I’m still so anxious.

If you have the opportunity… Please pay for my contractions.  It’s so hard to function with little people when your stomach is revolting.  Otherwise, happy Thursday!

XO, Chelsea.


“It’s the most wonderful time … of the year!!!”

We all know the lyrics to that song, even if it’s only through humming.  And I am so excited to have it playing daily! You know from Halloween how much I love holidays, and Christmas has so many reasons to celebrate.  Between the decorations, gatherings, cookies, and good cheer… what’s there to be remiss about?!

This weekend we had the ultimate holiday weekend: Saturday was spent at home playing with the kids, until the evening when mama and dada went on a fantastic date: Olive Garden and Fantastic Beasts! Having finally read the Harry Potter series, Fantastic Beasts was so much better.  I really encourage you to see it! Sunday we went to Harrisburg for the Great Bake Off, with the Wicked’s.  The kids weren’t too happy about their lack of nap (seriously, why was it 12-4?!) but the adults loved having so many treats.  Captain, myself, and the kids picked out our tree and did some holiday decorating through the house in the evening.

Captain and I have reached a serious giving goal this year as well – we were able to “tip the bill” at Olive Garden.  If you’re not aware: tipping the bill is when you tip the same amount as what your bill cost.  The bartender was very worth it, he was so kind and on top of everything! We also chose to sponsor 2 children for Salvation Army through his work, so we Christmas shopped for them, spoiling them a bit.  It helps that we aren’t scrambling to buy items for so many others.  Capt and I have such a heart to give…  just not always the means.

If the holidays have you down because you’re missing someone, just think of how they’d WANT you to be right now.  It’s hard, but we must continue to live FOR those people.  If you’re a scrooge/grinch… I highly recommend coming to my home. Where Christmas cheer follows you even into the bathroom (HAHAHA)

I am sure that I will say it closer to the day, but I want to wish you all the happiest of holidays, no matter what you celebrate. This year has had its ups and downs, new and old friendships, and so much more.. and I’m so grateful to have you here.

XO, Chelsea.

Controlling My Anxiety

Recently, I have had people offer to do things differently then I wish them to be done.  No harm is meant in the intention.. but it really sets my anxiety into a tailspin. I know it is dumb, and not fair. BUT I’ll give you an example.

Today, Captain should have been off – but he was able to pick up extra hours so he went to work.  Usually they get out around normal time and occasionally they’re out earlier – today was an early day.  He called me about half an hour ago and offered to grocery shop for me and I should pick up the kids… Holy cow my heart started racing. See?  DUMB!

I still said no – every Monday at work I make our menu, write the grocery list, and shop alone.  It works for me because I know where everything is, how much I should be spending, I rarely divert from my list, and it’s a bit of peace and quiet for me.  If he went: items could be forgotten, extra things we don’t really need picked up, and he may not get the correct thing anyway.

Little diversions in my daily routine or preplanned activities really can set me off. Some days are better than others… Today was not one of those days.  

Captain can be really good at understanding my anxiety, especially if we are face-to-face.  He sees the panic in my eyes, I think, and just let’s it go with: “I’m sorry, baby, it’s okay. We can do it your way.”  He conceded today, but I can tell he was irritated by my panic as well. 

If you suffer from anxiety, especially like this.. Just know that there is someone out there who get’s it.  Because sometimes I feel really weird, surrounded by really normal people who can and will accept change.

*Please note that I don’t own the rights to this photo. I found it on Google.*

Intentional Life

Month end is no joke when you’re some kind of billing coordinator, (my official title!) let me tell you! It’s one month from the end of the year, too, so I’m sure next month will be SO fun! LOLOLOL I’m laughing at myself, but I love being busy at work (and I love my job), so don’t mind me. But that’s why I didn’t blog yesterday.

I have really become lazy these last few weeks, and I don’t like the results… Boogie uses Youtube way too much, we aren’t eating at home very much, the house is in shambles (I mean – c’mon! I have a “Catchall room”!), I don’t use the budgeting tool we usually do – causing some small problems, and I have actually neglected my prayers.  Yesterday I decided it was time to get VERY intentional about how we spend our time at home. 

Captain cooked a yummy supper of mac & cheese and chicken thighs, while I cleaned up as much as possible.  We got through all the laundry and remembered to run the dishwasher! I continued to clean after kid bed time, and Captain went through massive boxes from LTD. Our laundry was put away and we both got showers (don’t worry, Boogs and June were bathed Tuesday!)  Today I’ve been praying EVERY time I think about it, because it is important to me, and I feel that it makes a difference.  We are also working on our budget tonight, after a very important meeting. 

Why am I telling you all this? Well, because it’s okay to fall off the horse, so long as you get RIGHT back on.  I didn’t say, “Oh, next week I’ll get more intentional.” NO! I started on a Wednesday night.  It only took us two hours to get through the grit, and my cleaning ladies will get the grime today (hehe – love that play on words). I feel better today, knowing my house is in order and ready for me to come home.  And I’ll feel better when my budget is done too!

Stop making these dumb excuses why you CAN’T do something.  Just hop back up and do it.  Need accountability?  I can help, or your parents, or spouse, just don’t do it alone.  It’s too hard and you’ll fall again much faster, and will be less likely to get back to whatever it.

Days Away

Captain Morgan spent 7 days, six nights away from our family this week… and it was AWFUL!

I tend to complain about Captain… a lot. To me, he can be lazy, he tells white lies (but then tells me the truth anyway?!?!?), and is a work-aholic.  Until this week, however, I never really appreciated what he DOES offer to our home.

He was offered out of state because there was a complete network failure in Ohio.  From the photos it looked like a huge sink hole, so they needed extra hands.  The company almost NEVER asks for an apprentice to travel out of state, and since Captain was up first, he got to say yes.  It was over Thanksgiving, plus we were scheduled to be at the wedding so he asked “permission” first.  I couldn’t tell him no! Traveling like that is a wonderful opportunity to learn new techniques and network with others.

The Wicked’s, nanny, and pop-pop really stepped up to help me.  The Wickeds took my Boogs to WV early with them.  That prevented him from seeing my mom and step-padre, but it was much better than me traveling four hour with two babies by myself.  Nanny and pop-pop kept June Bug for an extra night so that I wouldn’t be traveling the entire week, alone.  Mom and Step-Padre showed up on Tuesday and we had a wonderful visit. They picked June up from nanny’s Wednesday and we all had a delicious hibachi dinner.

My life was “easier” without the kids, so why was it awful without Captain?  The dogs were needy, and I am pregnant. Cooking for one (especially when leaving Thursday) is not easy, or fun, so I ate horrible foods.  I was also lonely.  This was the longest period of time we spent apart, and not having the kids to distract me was really difficult.  I don’t handle being alone well, even if all we do is bicker.

Our reunion was a happy one!! Captain showed up about an hour and a half after we got home, and he enjoyed play time with Boogie.  He put June to bed lovingly. He was helpful with getting the bags unpacked.  And he snuggled me as though it had been a year! I missed him so much, but this reunion was the best! I am happy he is home.

XO,  Chelsea


My handsome man was involved in a wedding this weekend! I also helped as her day of (and some before) coordinator! Let me tell you why I’ll politely refuse Boogie’s services in the future…

The whole weekend was very busy for us adults, especially the bride and myself.  We had last minute preparations, meeting with the on-site coordinators, and other fun wedding related activities.  But because the wedding was in West Virginia that meant June and Boogie were kinda kept cooped up inside. The weather wasn’t very cooperative, with it raining and being muddy the whole time. But you can imagine the consequences… Boogs was quite restless.  The cabin we stayed in included the bride, groom, and his 2 children, and the walls were virtually paper thin… this meant no good naps as well. 

The day of the wedding was the worst for Boogs.  He couldn’t nap with all the festivities, and so right after we got two photos after the ceremony, the meltdowns began.  I love my children but they tend to lose their minds at the most inopportune times… I still had the reception to go to coordinate.  Boogie refused to eat, sit still, be held by anyone but me, and if I was around, he expected me to hold him.  He is only 17 months old, but he had behaved SO WELL during everything else, I just needed him to hold on a little bit longer…

Thankfully I had WickedFIL to lean on when it came to watching the children most of the day, as Captain had unexpectedly been called to another state for work.  WickedMIL was a bridesmaid and she had her own responsibilities to the bride, but she was so helpful too.  After dinner we got those babes back to the cabin and right down to bed. 

We all slept well last night, finally in our own beds.  Captain got home only 1.5 hours after us, and it was so nice to spend that time together! I know that Boogie did his best for the wedding, but I think he’s still too young to understand – so from now on, the answer will be no.  I, on the other-hand, am VERY happy to help with weddings.  I’m quite sure the brides I’ve helped would be more than willing to lend a recommendation if needed 😉

XO, Chelsea