After the DCFS home walk-through (I'm so glad we passed. wink-wink), we had our first official meeting. Lots of questions and answers, lots of explaining about how things will go from here and lots of anticipation. Toward the end, the DCFS worker went straight to the foster family to bring Zaylee home. As soon as they walked out the door, we went to the kitchen to start baking cookies because Zaylee wouldn't think it was really Grammie's house if there weren't cookies in the oven! (Even if it is 900 degrees!)
Within an hour, the car pulled into the driveway and we ran out to greet her. She got out of the car looking like a little princess, cleaner, better kept than I've seen her since Liza and Buddy left, unless I'd done it myself. Darling little pink ribbons in her hair to match the pretty little new dress. She looked adorable and she knew it! She hopped out of the back seat, ran into my arms and gave me the biggest hug she has ever given me. Honestly, I cry thinking about it. It reminded me so much of the day that four year old Quayd ran into my arms when they came home to stay! And her first words, "Grammie!!! Guess what!?!?!? Mama's in jail and I get to live with you!" No mention of Kevin. (I'm sure that it was Kevin who'd told her Mama was in jail. I don't think anyone's told her that he is there too. We won't be mentioning it.) I told her how happy we are that she's coming to live with us and she said, "You're making cookies!"
She smelled the cookies and went straight to the kitchen. After lots of hugs and squeezes from the kids, she hopped up on the barstool and was ready for milk and cookies. Jennifer said that when she'd walked into the foster home, Zaylee was playing and having a great time. Jennifer told Zaylee that she was taking her to Grammie's house. Zaylee was up, "See ya! Gotta go to Grammies!" All the way here, Zaylee told Jennifer about each of the kids and Go-Go and Buddy and Liza has a girl baby in her tummy and and and.... She was definitely excited to be home. Jennifer gave her high fives, took her picture and said goodbye. She said that everyone at DCFS who'd met Zaylee were just in love with her immediately. With those eyes, that's pretty easy!
Within five minutes, she wanted to show us her " new church dress" and gave us a fashion show of the cute little dresses that the foster family sent her home with. She wanted to get in the pool as quick as she could get her swimsuit on. She told us all about going to Primary when she went to church on Sunday. And all about her new friends. The foster family had a 13 year old girl, a 14 year old girl and a 16 year old boy. Jennifer told me that the girls doted over her all weekend, dressing her up, doing her hair, having a great time playing with her. They did have to cut her hair a bit, but it's still adorable! Zaylee said, "they had to cut allllll the knots out, Grammie!"
Oh! When Doug came in from work, she was in the pool. From the gallery, I could hear her little cackle, which is so dang cute and one of my favorite things about Zaylee. It just made me cry to think that she's here and that we don't have to worry about her safety and well-being any more! Doug had stopped on his way home to buy her a new life-vest. She was so excited to see Grampy and didn't want to let go of his neck. Seriously, this hug lasted long enough for me to leave the room, grab the camera, turn it on and take a pic! She keeps saying, "I'm going to live here forever." And my favorite thing was that several times, she said to us all, "I love you so much!" She's not said anything about what happened but you can, literally, sense her relief. It's almost pallpible.
As we were finishing dinner last night, she said, "At Lexi's house, they have to say May I be Excused?" before they leave the table." She said it just as Quayd was clearing his place and saying "thanks for dinner, Mom. May I be excused?" She was quite proud of herself when she asked to be excused.
She ate seconds on every bite of pasta alfredo, green beans and cantaloupe. She asked what was it called and she repeated several times, "canT-a-Lope!, it's my favorite!" I was told that she's been living on bags of microwave popcorn. At dinner, we told her that she's going to start to school soon. She said, "My daddy says I can't go to school because he doesn't have enough money and it costs one dollar. Grampy, do you have one dollar?" Doug explained that we have enough money for her to go to school, no worries and she said, "Do you have enough money to buy ice cream too because I really like ice cream!" Everyone just busted out laughing.
Quayd took her across the street to see the horses, but, only one was in the pasture. She name him Katie and fed him grass from the neighbor's lawn. "Katie" whinnied quite loudly and Zaylee took off running! Her eyes were huges!! Quayd told her that Katie was saying, "Thank you for the grass, Zaylee" and she was just fine and ready to feed him more.
After dinner, while Zeej was doing her dishes (she's back on the chore list, as we are calling her almost fully recovered), Quayd spent an hour doing a puzzle (one of the very few things I did not send to Kelly's a few weeks ago) over and over until she could do it alone. She kept saving Utah for last and said, "this is Smithfield, where we live."
The young women came and swam in the pool for their activity. I'd told Zaylee that we would watch the big girls swim. ZJ said she'd watch her closely in the pool. I agreed to a few minutes, but she ended up staying in the pool with the big girls the entire evening and had a blast! She's just loving all of the attention. After thinking about it all night, I know that the girls will play with her all the time, but I think that I'm going to "assign" Quayd to some time each day with her. It will be good for him, as well.
Bedtime was a breeze. She brushed her teeth and I did what I've done with all six of the kids... everytime she shows me how shiny they are, I cover my eyes and squeal about how bright they are. She was almost in tears laughing. And after prayers and one book from ZJ, she fell straight to sleep. (All that time in the pool helped, I'm sure!)
As Doug was getting ready for bed, himself, Carol called from Bear Lake for an update. He came in while we were on the phone, kissed me and said, "It's been a good day." Indeed, it had!
A few things we now know. Kelly and Kevin were told this morning at a "shelter hearing" that they will not be permitted to see her anywhere but DCFS and that they are not to come to our home for any reason. They were informed that they will have some major hoops to jump through. I'll not be sharing a lot of details about their circumstances because they are their details. But, suffice it to say, it will take a miracle for them to comply with all that is being demanded by DCFS, not to mention their new probationary assignments when they get out. Kelly is supposed to get out of jail today or tomorrow. Liza and I spent a lot of time on the phone back and forth all day long. She skyped with Zaylee for a bit so that Zaylee could show off her pretty dress and hair. Thankfully, Liza inherited many of her dad's calm natured qualities because this has to be hard on her being so far away right now.
Deep sigh. Life is going to be different at our home. I'm already remembering things like "I wanna do it myself" power struggles, bedtime, little trails of pre-schooler around the house... and just when I had three teens well trained! We will survive. There are lessons to be learned!
As I went to sleep last night, the thing that my heart is most filled with gratitude is for was this sweet family who took such wonderful care of Zaylee for the past few days. She arrived looking adorable and completely content. They sent her a few darling things to wear and a gallon sized bag of hair bows and clippees. She mentioned them several times. What a blessing that there are people out there who would be willing to do this and take care of sweet little innocent children at the most difficult times in their life!
I won't go on like this every day but this one was special and I want to remember every detail. Life is good!
Be happy for this moment.
This moment is your life.