Saturday, December 26, 2009

Please Tell Me I Am Not The Only One

Going to be painfully honest here. Sometimes I really do not enjoy my children too much. Is it okay for me to say that? I get annoyed with them quite easily. Just for needing me. Needing me to make them food, get them a drink, take them to the potty, mediate their arguments, look for missing lego pieces, look for blankies, clean up the milk that they spilled because they were rolling a ball on the table.....AGAIN!

Motherhood is so incredibly demanding! And lately I feel like maybe I should hand in my resignation. At least for a day or two.

I know that the enemy wants me to feel isolated and alone in seasons of struggling with being a mom. I know I am not the only mom who feels this way. I know there are other moms out there who struggle in the same way. It is just hard to find moms who will write with gut level honesty. You start feeling like you are doing something very wrong.

I have found myself asking Mark so often lately, "What are we doing wrong?" This always comes after something I seem to think other people have mastered. Why do my babies get up all hours of the night? Why do my toddlers whine all day about everything? Why do my older boys get into such intense verbal disputes? Why do I yell when I so badly want to respond with grace and love? I then say, "What is wrong with me?!"

And you know....I don't think there is anything wrong with me except that I have these expectations that are just simply unattainable. I am human. I am going to have bad days. I am going to have days that I wake up a little "off" and have a hard time getting myself back on track. Same as my children. I have days when I want to whine about my life. Kind of like my toddlers. I have days where I want to stomp out of the room and lock myself away for time alone. Just like my boys. I have days when I want to sit and cry. Kind of like my toddlers.

But.....I need to learn to overcome my feelings and being to teach my children that emotions cannot rule my life. My goodness though - it is so darn hard!!

I did lock myself in the bathroom the other day - if only for a minute. It felt nice though. Just me. Alone. Solitude.

It only lasted a moment since Eden figured out where I was and began pounding on the door and I had to hurriedly open the door for fear that her pounding and yelling would awaken Heidi. But that moment was tasty!

I know this seems like a strange post when everyone else is all happy, jolly and Christmasy. Just where I am at this Christmas.

I love my children to no end! Wouldn't trade any of them! I know I am walking out God's plan for my life! I also know that when I am feeling completely depleted that I have decided (unconsciously) to walk in my own strength. Oh how miserably I fail!

So...on this after Christmas I am more grateful than ever that a baby was born who made it possible for me to fall on my face in front of my Father simply to say, "Help me! Save me! Extend Grace to me! Carry me! Enable me! Bless me!"

It still would be nice to know that I am normal. Anyone?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How Do You Do It?

Rhetorical questions. They somehow follow me. Maybe they follow everyone. I am often asked, "How do you do it?" I interpret that to mean, "How do you stay sane with 5 children especially when you have three children age three and under."

Well...just for the record....I sometimes question my sanity. I jest of course...I think? Some days I feel far from normal. But again, what is normal? Who do I allow to define normal in my life? Is it possible that my normal may look different than your normal?

When people ask me how I do it I often look at that same person in amazement and wonder how they do it. You see, we have simplified our life a lot. Our children are our life. Our family, our marriage and our relationship is our life. So many people we know are running all day long - dropping kids off at pre-school, picking kids up from pre-school, running kids to activities, picking kids up from activities, going to sporting events....I know we all know folks like that. Some of you reading may be folks like that. I am not pointing the finger. One thing I have learned is that we all have different perspectives. One persons life isn't better than the next - it may just be different. We have just made the decision that our kids are little only once and they will have plenty of years ahead of them to be involved in sports, music and activities.

The boys have been in gymnastics, kick-boxing and swimming. They enjoy it but are just as happy being at home riding bikes, riding four wheelers, playing in the woods.....being kids. After we finished up kick-boxing we talked and they were okay taking a little break from activities. I was feeling a bit drained trying to corral the other two munchkins as well as keep Heidi happy while they were at gymnastics or kick-boxing. Judah has been asking for art lessons and Shane for drum lessons. I am fine with the art lessons and with the drum lessons - one will just require ear plugs. Or maybe they both will require ear plugs depending on the frustration level that arises when art work isn't to Judah's standard.

My point is I think when people see us with five children they try to imagine how they would fit five children into their current schedules. Because their schedules with 2 or 3 children makes my head spin and spin. I really am a simplistic person. I do not mind being at home. I am ok with the fact that my van may not move out of the garage for 4 days. I could find something to do or someplace to go. I just don't have this insatiable desire to be on the move.

I have realized though over the past 2-3 weeks that there is another area that we need to slow down and take a break. Even though we are home a lot we entertain very often. We enjoy having family and friends here and I love baking and cooking to feed people. But I am starting to feel a bit burned out. Getting the house presentable, bathrooms cleaned and food ready is starting to create a level of stress that is making me cranky. If I was operating and functioning at full capacity it would be fine. But being up 4-7 times every night is creating a lower-functioning human being. I know I said I wouldn't complain about sleepless nights but come on people!!! Can the baby sleep already?!!

Now...if you have been someone who has graced our home with your presence over the past few months do not start wondering if you made me cranky! You didn't! I have had a hard time slowing down and a few things are making me see the necessity. The most glaring and obvious thing being the fact that I have not been enjoying my children very much lately. I am always in a rush to get something done, something made, something cleaned - you name it. Secondly, my husband has a tired wife from the normal demands of life without taking on so much extra work. So....we talked about it and decided that after Christmas rolls around we will take at least a month off from entertaining - possibly two months! The thought makes me almost giddy with anticipation!

Although being home with the kids can bring about a whole level of stress by itself. But that is for another post!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Festive Fun

I have a few random pictures I have been meaning to post. I realize it has been quite a while since I have posted pictures - just takes too long. :)
Here are Eden and Aunt Joyce taking a nap on Thanksgiving. I snapped one picture and the flash jolted Eden awake. This is the second picture I took and I love her one eye looking at me. Sleeping beauties........
Heidi hanging out. She is still just army crawling but is extremely efficient in getting from point A to point B. It is fun to watch but makes me a bit sad at the same time. She seems to be changing a bit too quickly for this momma.
My oldest sister and her two daughters came for a little visit. Judah and Shane made these beautiful gingerbread houses with their cousins. They were very lovely! The girls and the houses! We actually just threw away what remained yesterday because they were the gift that kept on giving. Giving pieces of icing and remnants of crumbs all day long! They thoroughly enjoyed making them and consuming them. Please don't tell them but I snuck a few pieces of candy here and there!
Shane and Caitlyn working hard on their decorating

Judah and Ashleigh's finished product.
Shane and Caitlyn's finished product.
A little sweetness in the mix here. Heidi has this little love affair with her dad that is just precious! Her face lights up when he walks in the room.
Our tree almost completely decorated!
The first little bit of snow we got last week the boys decided to go out and play. Really???? Where are the snow pants, coats and hats? At least they have boots and gloves.
One of the advent "thingy" activities was to paint ornaments for the tree. Tristan and Eden haven't painted very often so they were thrilled!! I was a little less zealous over the cleanup.

Today we had a snow day and Judah was home from school. The activity for today was to make bird feeders by covering pine cones with peanut butter and then rolling them in bird seed. Again...a little messy but lots of fun.
Last evening we had a party to go to. They were calling for snow and freezing rain but we decided to go and just keep checking outside to make sure we didn't run into trouble. I should have trusted my gut but felt a little silly since it didn't seem all that bad - just a bit of snow. As the evening wore on and the precipitation starting I had this gnawing in the pit of my stomach. Not like me at all. Driving in snow doesn't freak me out usually. But we had stopped to pick up Mark's truck on our way to the party since his salt spreader was being installed yesterday. This meant we would both be driving home.
We skipped out a little early and figured out real quickly that the roads were not going to be very fun to navigate - especially without four wheel drive. Fortunately, Heidi fell asleep all most immediately upon getting into the van so she wasn't screaming. The roads were horrible!!! We almost didn't make it home. At one point the van refused to budge up a hill, I slid to the side of the road and we switched vehicles. Mark worked for about 10 minutes and finally made it up the hill and very cautiously drove down the other side. Needless to say, our babysitter spent the night since we saw vehicles stranded along the road. And we almost had to ditch ours and just take the truck.
Moral of the story - trust your gut!! I was so annoyed with myself for not leaving when the gnawing became almost nauseating. Oh well.....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas is arriving

It seems to me that lack of sleep over the course of weeks, months and years makes a persons brain turn to mush occasionally. I am in a mushy state of mind these days. Hence the lack of posts recently. Just don't seem to have the energy to form coherent thoughts that another human being would find interesting.

It seems as though for some reason God has seen fit to give us another cherub who either thinks sleep is overrated or that nighttime is the best time to get quality time with the mother. I don't mind the sleepless nights as much as I mind my lack of patience with the kids and lack of perspective with life the next day.

Eden has come through her sleepless nights beautifully, Tristan is sleeping finally after 3 years and now we just have to conquer the babe!! In time, right? I don't mean to sound like a broken record. I am very well aware that if I were to read back over my blog I mention sleepless nights more than anything else. How dismal. On to something much more fun and celebratory.

The festive days of Christmas are in full swing at our house. The boys drug out their fake trees last evening and we decorated the night away! The stockings are hung all in a row. I am buckling under the pressure this year. I have always been a white light only decorator and wanted nothing gawdy. But really....what fun is that for little kids? Think back to when you were a child. What grabbed your attention? The wonderfully, hideous colored lights (no offense to you colored light lovers) seemed to spark much brighter. I have been able to convince my kids to remain with white lights but we will have lovely green and red candy canes that will adorn our sidewalk. Can hardly believe I am admitting this! Yes....we will have some otherwise ugly decor this year but the smiles on my children's faces will be more than worth it. The tree isn't up or decorated yet but was purchased today. I am not sure how this is all going to go - Eden has already broken some pieces from my beautiful and favorite nativity set.

Something new we are doing this year is a homemade advent calendar thingy. I say "thingy" because my attempts at being crafty leave a lot to be desired. Some examples of activities are game nights, movie nights, baking cookies, possibly visiting a local shelter with the two older boys (still working on this one), taking our neighbors Christmas get the idea. Last night the boys picked out what World Vision gift they wanted to purchase. Both boys, upon receiving the World Vision gift catalog, offered to give $10 of the money we would have spent on them for Christmas. We told them we would do the same so last night they spent time looking through the catalog and making their "purchase." Shane spent his half of the money on soccer balls for children in Africa and Judah spent his half on emergency medicine for children and infants in Africa. It was fun watching them "shop". Shane was so torn - he thought it would be better to purchase mosquito nets for a family yet couldn't stand the thought of the kids not having soccer balls to play with.

We really want to cultivate in our children and ourselves an awareness of what this season really and truly signifies! Not an easy task in such a consumer oriented society. I would love to hear how other people celebrate with their children and families! Anyone care to share?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Family Size

Another question I hear frequently is, " you think you are done?" As in done having children. Or adding children. Or parenting more children.

Again...a very touchy and often controversial subject. I have found people have really strong opinions about sizes of families. While large families are nothing new for us (I am one of 6 and Mark is one of 8) it is something akin to a 7th wonder of the world if you are all seen together. And we only have 5 children. And I don't say 'only 5' lightly. Because when you tell people you have 5 they suddenly seem to acquire some sort of bulging eye issue.

I had Heidi and Eden with me on Friday when I was getting groceries. Heidi was asleep in her car seat and Eden was 'helping' me push the cart through the store. In my mind we were having a very successful shopping trip which basically means the mom isn't feeling frazzled by her children. A woman glanced at me and said, "Wow! You have your hands full!" I was thinking to myself....really? Because I have one child who is sleeping peacefully and another child who was actually being helpful. Why were my hands full?

I have heard often and actually at one point almost believed the common argument that there is more dysfunction in larger families. That children feel lost, unseen and cannot have their needs met when in large families. Can I just say this: EVERY family has dysfunction! The size of the family does not dictate whether or not dysfunction will be present. Our human nature and sinfulness is what causes the dysfunction. I know there are varying degrees of dysfunction- you just have to watch people, watch the news, read the news to be aware of that fact. I will never forget the day my therapist confirmed my greatest fears: will hurt your children. You will do many things wrong. They may need counseling of their own. But is counseling so bad? it isn't bad at all. In fact, I learned more about myself sitting on her couch than almost anywhere else.

What about the idea that children will feel lost and unseen in their own home? Again...does the size of the family dictate that? Or do our hobbies, our busy lives, our "stuff" ultimately decide for us. So much hinges on personalities of children too. We have one son who demands very little of my time, is content to play alone, etc. I have to make a very conscious effort to connect with him. He is a child who could become 'lost'. I doesn't matter if we have 7 or 3 children. He would still have the same personality and I would still have to make the effort. We also have children who could dominate all my time and could dictate the dynamics of our home. We are aware of this and work daily to make sure they do not get all the attention. Do we do things perfectly? Obviously not!! Far from perfect. In fact so many days I tell Mark I am screwing my children up. I still have baggage to work through and will all my life.

Which brings me to this: we are flawed! Life is flawed! But there is redemption!! I am who I am because of how I was raised and my life experiences thus far! Has my life been perfect? No. Has it been blessed? Absolutely! I am more appreciative of my Father God because my earthly father did little to meet this "little" girls needs. While God has brought tremendous healing and redemption I sit here and still tear up as I type this. The pain is always raw. But I am who I am because of it. I could sit here and wish things would have been different. I could sit here and wonder what life would have been like. But why? I am comfortable with who I am and extremely grateful for my life! Look at Old Testament. Look at the story of Joseph for example. Obvious dysfunction! He was clearly a favorite out of the boys, his brothers despised him for it, sold know the story. But look at the redemption! Or what about David' life. A very sordid tale. But again...the lineage of Jesus was birthed out of brokenness!

For me, the dysfunction that I have experienced in my life has made me so aware that I need a Savior. I need a Redeemer! It really doesn't matter if there are 2, 4, 6, 8, 10.....children! I will parent, love, mess up, ask for forgiveness, admit my brokenness and do the best I can at raising the children God has blessed me with.

**I started this post two days ago and am just getting back to it. I am just going to wrap it up and continue on with a few more thoughts the next time. I really hope this is filled with grace and doesn't feel in anyway like judgement.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Solitude and Other Swirling Thoughts

I love quietness. I do not mind having time alone and to myself. I don't necessarily crave alone time but when I stumble upon it I welcome it. While I am not alone right now technically (there are 5 sleeping children in the house) I am basking in quietness. An absolute rarity. Mark went to life group tonight and I opted to stay home since Shane is still a bit under the weather and I can't seem to get through more than 2 minutes without coming close to coughing up one of my lungs. My abs have been getting a phenominal workout but unfortunately my lower back isn't too pleased with my coughing spasms. I have been having a little flair up with my bulging disc and this isn't helping matters. But I have nothing to complain about, right Steffany? :)

Just when I thought we were dodging the sick bullet we got hit. Judah first, then Shane. Judah had fever, aches, severe headaches, chills.....for three days. He only missed one day of school since it hit on Saturday. Normally he is very dramatic about being sick but he felt so lousy this time that he hardly spoke a word for 2 days. Monday afternoon he came into the kitchen and wondered if we had any broccoli. He hadn't really eaten anything since Friday so I looked at him funny. He sat down and ate almost 2 complete heads of broccoli. Silly kid!

Shane started with it on Sunday evening. Fever, huge glands and just overall aches. He is doing some better because he started eating today. His neck is really stiff though and his glands are freakishly huge! If they aren't improved tomorrow morning I will be calling the doctor I think.

And I just have an obnoxious cold. I will get over it though - no need to continue complaining.

Wow!! Peace and quiet is something I would buy if it were purchasable. This is lovely!!

So excited for Lana and Larry who we met while in Ethiopia. They passed court yesterday and they are parents to beautiful sisters ages 6 and 8. I can't help but look at my boys who are the same age and wonder what these precious girls must be feeling. I know some of their story but it isn't mine to tell. Just pray for the transition for them, for Lana and Larry and their other children. This will be number 7 & 8 for them!

Which brings me to a question I hear from people sometimes. "How much money did it cost for you to adopt Eden? Followed by, "How can people afford to adopt?" At first I didn't mind answering the question too much. But as time went on I began to find the question offensive. I found myself wanting to say, "Just how much is too much? How much is a child worth? How much are your children worth to you?"

I view things so often through the filter of if the tables were turned. What if I were the one dying of AIDS? What if my children were about to be orphaned? How much would I value their lives? Would I want someone to let them sit because they were scared of what baggage they might bring with them? Would I want someone to look over them because it cost too much?

Adoption isn't cheap! But more than the monetary investment it is the eternal investment. Rarely do you find someone who has the spare thousands lying around. Almost always it is a life of sacrifice, a life of maybe doing without something that we deem "necessary".

Why is it that so often it is the families who have 4, 5, or six children who return to bring more children home? Is it because they have so much spare cash? Probably not! Is it because they have experienced the Fathers heart and heard His heart breaking over these precious children made in His image? Probably so. Having children isn't a trivial thing. Is doesn't matter how they become your children. It is a lifetime of investing in them: their character, their relationships with each other, their relationship with you, their hobbies, their get the idea. I do not view having children lightly. It is a huge task and responsibility. I am convinced though that the sleepless nights and the intense seasons of molding character are beyond worth it.

I remember when we first started the paperwork process and talking with someone (I think you will remember who you are) about the financial side of things. I said I had numerous people tell me that if God was calling us to adopt we wouldn't go into debt. That is a whole other subject that I have no desire to get into. I remember asking this person how they had completed their adoption and if they had any debt left over. And you know? They said something so simple yet so profound that it really was pivitol in our journey. She looked at me and said, "So what if you have $5,000 in debt left over. People buy brand new vehicles, pay on them for 5 years and have something that is worth nothing in 10 years. A child has an eternal soul! They are priceless!" I walked away thinking to myself that I didn't care what people thought anymore. I didn't care if we had to get an adoption loan.

I talked with our agency this week about some paperwork that I needed to forward to them. Like Eden's re-adoption, her PA birth certificate, etc. I asked them how they process older adoptions since we have been tossing that around. I was shocked....stunned....when they told me that they only do 5-10 adoptions per year of children who are "older" (I am assuming this means past the age of 2). They do approximately 70 adoptions per year of infants. I took in this information but as I thought about it later my heart was saddened. That means almost all the beautiful children who I photographed, touched and bantered with are still there. There are a few other agencies who also adopt from that orphanage so maybe they process the older children. But more than likely the vivacious little boy who had darkened front teeth from decay but whose smile was still so beautiful who daily took my hand and placed it on his head while saying, "Mama?" is still putting the hand of the next lady to walk through the door on his head and still asking, "Mama?"

Do you feel it? The tugging? Maybe you should succumb to it and take a risk. I am so glad we did. Even though my girl thinks she can pea while standing on the toilet seat and proceeds to pea everywhere. More than once a day. Ugggh! Even though she loves to push my buttons and gets a horribly mischievious grin on her face when she knows I am upset. Darn those emotions anyhow!!

Maybe I will write some more another day. I do feel a measure of grace. We will see. But for now.....adoption is worth it and you absolutely cannot put a price on a child. They are indeed precious and priceless!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Toy Eating Couch

Had the carpets cleaned today and found a wonderful assortment of missing game pieces, puzzle pieces, crayons, get the idea. Basically everything you can imagine except for any of the children. Felt a bit embarrassed but figured the guys who were cleaning the carpets have seen worse. At least I hope.

So I am left wondering.....can I re gift any of the lost and now found items to my children? Seems logical since they have been missing for so long.

Of course I am kidding since I am already almost finished with Christmas shopping for my kids. If only I would have had the carpets cleaned a month ago.........

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Orphan Sunday

As most of you is orphan Sunday. My heart is burdened as always but with a bit more intensity lately. Knowing there are 143 million orphans is heart wrenching. Did you know that if those 143 million orphans held hands and stood in a row they would reach around the earth 4 times? Staggering!!

When we started on our journey to bringing Eden home I would never have dreamt that God would take the plight of the orphan and brand it on my heart. He didn't just stamp it - he branded me for life!!

On a daily basis I ask God what it is that I need to do. I cannot walk away from what I saw and not do something. I cannot read the stats and just walk away. I cannot stare into the faces of these precious children and assume that someone else will do something.

It is my responsibility! My job! Until the day I die I will be outspoken for these children. To the point of obnoxiousness possibly.

On that note (and this is the post I said has been swimming in my mind) I will just ask for anyone who reads my blog to go to this link and seriously consider bringing this child home. And for the record....this post hasn't even gotten started!! I have much to say but need to still figure out how to say everything with as much grace as possible. And towards the end of this post make sure you click on her post about meeting her sons birth mother. Read it! Let it go deep! Allow yourself to mourn and yet rejoice with this woman! This is life people!

James 1:27 - Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Time for Heidi

Are you ready for the rolls? Because we have some very sweet rolls at this house!! From the back she looks exactly like Shane when he was a baby! Same head shape and hair. Although she has hardly any hair. Maybe someday....
And from the front she looks like Shane too! In fact, we have started calling her Shane Junior. Or Jr for short!
And since Shane loves babies and especially Heidi he is beyond pleased knowing she resembles him. it just me or does time seem to be in overdrive? I have numerous posts that have been swirling in my head and haven't had the time to get my thoughts out. But before I can embark on all those things I have a sweet little girl to write about.

Where to start? At the beginning I guess. I so vividly remember the day I found out I was pregnant with her. I was just getting over mono, starting to feel pretty good yet was a bit suspicious. We had taken the two older boys to a local amusement park to spend the day on the water slides. I had mentioned to Mark that I was a bit suspicious but we both dismissed it since it seemed so highly unlikely. I went into the bathroom and saw these two cute little girls holding hands, whispering and giggling. One was African-American and one was Caucasian. In that instant I felt this whisper in my heart that I was looking at our future. I was not okay with that thought. I decided the next day to pick up a pregnancy test when I was at the grocery store. I came home and took the test while Mark was bathing Tristan and Eden. I ran up the steps crying and showed Mark the test. I was a bit hysterical especially when I realized Mark was so excited!!

Fast forward to now! incredibly grateful and honored I am to parent this beautiful little girl! Literally everyday Mark and I talk about what we would be missing if she weren't here. Seriously...everyday!

What has been one of the best parts of the past year is the work God did in my heart! I was so confident that I was open to whatever the Lord wanted to bring my way. But when he disrupted my plans and things felt outside of my control I realized how much I still wanted to maintain control of my life. I have so far to go but I know my heart is softening and I desire more than ever to embrace the blessings God has for me!
Those of you who know me or who have read my blog for a while know that Heidi was definitely not an easy baby. I had so many days when I just wanted to dig a hole somewhere and hide. But now...she brings immeasurable joy to my day! She still is happiest at home without extra chaos but is starting to handle crowds a bit better. I am amazed by her. Her smile is always ready and she needs no prompting to display it! She is beginning to move around surprisingly well for just an army crawl. I am going to have to invest in a gate real soon so she is safe from the steps.
I am feeling extremely inept today at getting my feelings out. It may have something to do with the interruptions of the other two little ones. Mark took Shane and Judah to his sister Joyce's college field hockey game. I thought that I would have time to finish up this post with minimal disturbances but how silly I was to assume such a thing.
Today I am eternally grateful for the gift God gave us when He entrusted us with Heidi. As always I desire to love her, guide her, lead Her to the Father and set her free to walk in what He has laid out for her. She is the best surprise of my life, hands down!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Eden Joy

I have seasons as a mother where I tend to enjoy a child more when they are asleep because they are somewhat contained, you know? They aren't getting into anything, they aren't being sassy - they are just being! Obviously I am referring to Eden right now. We are just in this strangely difficult season right now. I love her beyond belief! After the day is over and I can sit without her climbing all over me I can focus on all the cute things throughout the day, get a bit of perspective and gear up for the next day.

Problem is.....,she has been giving me lots of problems during the night so I have to gear myself up for the night and hope I make it to the next morning with energy for the day. For about 2 months now she has been awake anywhere for 1-2 hours. On average three nights a week. Awake, alert, standing next to our bed with a grin on her face all ready for the ensuing battle. I walk her back to her room, return to bed, doze off and about 15 minutes later she is standing next to the bed again with the same grin. Oh.......she knows how to get under my skin in a heartbeat. Last night a little over an hour into the "fun" she had to pee. Then she wanted to brush her teeth (um...NO), said she had to poop (I doubt it), needed a name it she thought of it! She amazes me in her ability to stick with a fight. Sound familiar? Kind of like her older brother Shane?

She really does remind us of Shane a lot! Same incredibly sweet heart and same incredibly stubborn tendencies! Her and Shane are somewhat inseparable. They are together most of the time and get along so well!

She definitely gets into things way more than the boys ever did. If she is quiet for more than 2 minutes there is a problem. If you say, "Eden. What are you doing?" You hear a quick, "Nothing!" followed by frantic feet rushing from the scene of a crime. It is sometimes lotion, sometimes soap, sometimes in Heidi's bed, sometimes in the refrigerator. She is so quick.

I also have never had a child try to get away with things like she does. It is almost humorous! Case in point: two weeks ago I couldn't find her. I was walking through the house calling her name. I found a little chair next to the kitchen counter with an empty gum wrapper. She had asked me for a piece of gum a few minutes prior and I had told her no. The evidence was fairly incriminating. The problem was I couldn't seem to find her anywhere. Walking through the house, calling her name, looking outside wondering how a child can disappear in 2 minutes time. I walked through the living room again and I don't recall if I saw the cushion on the couch move or if she made a noise. Either way I found her wedged behind the cushion on the couch with a piece of gum in her mouth. I very kindly removed the gum from her mouth. Little stinker!

I look at her so often and am so incredibly grateful that God brought her to us!! I have learned so much from her and God has done a deep work in our hearts through her and our journey to her. Something has begun to happen in our relationship that was missing before. She feels like my daughter!! We still have a ways to go but there is a connection that is happening that is running much deeper. I am more aware of the areas of attachment that need more attention and I believe that bond will only deepen.

I love her sparkly eyes, her bouncy self, her giggle, her hugs, her singing, her tenacity, her vivaciousness and her larger than life personality.

I could write so much more about our recent struggles but this post has been plenty long enough. I will bare my soul a bit someday soon and see if anyone can relate to some of the things we have been struggling with.

It is now 10:30 and I should haul myself off to bed since I never know what the night will bring. Well....I am usually fairly confident that the night will bring lack of sleep but I am beginning to think sleep is way, way overrated!!

Love Abounds

And in this moment the mom who happens to look out the window realizes that they do indeed love each other! There are moments of toleration and there are moments of genuine love and enjoyment of each other!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Compassion Being Formed

About a year ago, I made a photo book on snapfish of the first few months of Eden being in our family. I don't have a baby book for her so I put the referral pictures we received from our agency, pictures of us meeting her, pictures of get the idea. On the second page there is a close up picture of her face after being placed in my arms. She isn't crying but looks sad with tears in her eyes. You can't tell I am holding her though. Fast forward to today. I hear Tristan crying as he walked out towards the living room from Eden's bedroom. He was holding the book and just sobbing. I sat down with him and asked him what was wrong. He pointed to the picture of Eden (you can see it if you look closely) and said, "She is sad." I tried to assure him and tell him she was okay. That it was Eden when she was a baby but she was okay now. He stopped crying and I thought we had processed everything and were good. About 5 minutes later I hear these gut wrenching sobs. I am talking grieving sobs. I found him again with the book on the couch and the sobs coming out of him sounded like his heart was breaking. I am not exaggerating. I don't know that I have ever heard those kinds of sobbing cries from my children. Again I asked him what was wrong and he pointed to that same picture. He said, "She needs her momma. She is sad."

People...I was flabbergasted. Have you ever had a moment where you felt like God was touching and shaping the heart of your child? I am confident that my son's heart was being touched deeply. I prayed quietly, asked God to take the compassion deep and seal it on his heart. I again assured him that Eden was fine and was with her momma now. I don't know what all went on internally in him today but I know it was something amazing and I am thankful that I got to be with him to hold him, assure him and experience it with him.

And this is what Eden thought while Tristan was crying. Big joke!
And batman's apprentice flew into our living room the other day. She is pretty cute and working on her flying skills.
Heidi and her dear brother Shane who helped her into her disguise. Look how big she is! I had her to the doctor for her 6 month check and she weighed in at 17 pounds! She has great rolls!! She is rolling both ways and is starting to pull her knees up under her to scoot around. It amazes me that we are to this point already. She is such a sweety!

Monday, October 12, 2009

On to my man Tristan

Funny how my random name drawing has resulted in the three boys going before the girls. Funny stories first. Tristan has just been through potty training and is somewhat obsessed with the new appendage that is now a bit more accessible than before. At our house we do not do code names for body parts - we teach them the real names. One evening I overheard Tristan and Eden talking about who was a boy and who was a girl. They seemed a bit uninformed or either confused so I decided to help set them straight. I said to Tristan, "Honey. Eden is a girl and you are a boy. What do boys have?" To which he replied, "A penis." So I said, "And what does a Eden have?" Keep in mind we have not ventured into the technical terms for girls yet. Tristan said to me, "Eden has a butt." Followed by "God needs to work on her penis." Uh....honey....God did work on her and she has everything she will ever have. I laughed for a long time and still get a good chuckle when I think about how serious he was.

I know I have said before that he kind of gets stuck on certain things and that is all he thinks about. He gets stuck on things like balloons and alphabet letters. Recently his obsession has been gum and a game called Hullabaloo. The game is made by Cranium and he just loves it!! It has different shapes and colors of pads that have pictures of animals, instruments or food on them. There is a battery operated instruction thingy (for lack of a better term) that plays music and gives instructions. Like...stomp to a circle, spin to a food, jump to a square, give high fives to as many players as you can reach, crawl to a blue, freeze!!! If you are standing on the drums you are a winner! a victory dance! Well, Tristan has been playing this game for days now for hours at a time. When he wins he shouts out "I'm a winner!!" But he gets so frustrated when he doesn't win. Now, instead of spreading out the pads he keeps them in a pile, sits on them and proclaims he is a winner every time. It is so blasted cute!!

I have seen a transition happen and I am not sure when it all transpired. He is one of the boys now. Judah and Shane have always loved him and been patient with him. But he is now included in a lot of their play. I love watching the friendships form since I have always wondered if he would feel like the odd man out being younger than them.

Some of my favorite things about him are his goofy humor, listening to him as he plays and snuggling with him in bed if he gets up before I have to bail out of bed. We used to snuggle almost every morning and now it is rare but so treasured! Some of his favorite things are streaking through the house after going to the bathroom with me in pursuit, watching Thomas the Tank Engine, reading stories and snuggling.

One of my other favorite things is hearing him yelling at Eden. Somehow we started calling Eden "E". Not all the time obviously but it is kind of our endearing name for her. I was always Matilda, Missy, pumpkin....just typical endearments. She has become E. Suits her. The greatest part about it though is when Tristan is frustrated with her. You hear this piercing "EEEE" and then her little feet running away from him as fast as possible. Oh! She loves to antagonize.

He is a delight and not a night goes by that I don't fall deeper in love with him when I kiss him on my way to bed. He is an all out sleeper - sprawled out everywhere. And he always wants a cup of water with ice when he climbs in bed. He is sweetness for sure.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Fruit Farm

Today we took the kids to the local fruit farm for their fall festival. I have always loved the fruit farm (as we affectionately call it). The folks who own the farm go to our church and their daughter, son-in-law and grand kids are becoming fast friends of ours. We have had a few fun times getting our families together so we told them we would make sure to get out for the festival. I have not been to the festival for a few years and my goodness!!! It was crazy! People everywhere! There were lots of little vendors selling their specialties, kettle corn being freshly made, the smell of french fries, apple name it! The kids enjoyed it a lot - all except Heidi. No big surprise but I thought since she was in the front pack she would just fall asleep. Oh...the danger of assumption!

The kids wanted to ride on the wagon to go and pick a pumpkin in the patch. While we were waiting in line Heidi ramped up the screaming so Mark took the other four by himself on the wagon and out to pick a pumpkin. I had this idea in my mind of taking tons of pictures and documenting everything. Heidi wasn't cooperating at all but I did manage to snap a few pictures. Tristan peeking over the edge of the wagon as they were getting back. It is a bit blurred but I love it still. They picked out a 50 lb pumpkin. I don't know if the kids picked that one or if Mark picked it. Either way we have a whopping pumpkin by our front door.
One of the boys favorite things was the sling-shot. You pay $1 for 3 apples. They use all the bruised apples that are not sell able. Want to see the target?
This pick-up truck parked out in a field.
Shane's turn. I don't think either of the boys hit the truck. They still thought it was great. Creative fun!
Of course Mark had to get in on the fun and he hit the truck every time. He was trying to get an apple through the truck window but didn't. Two funny shots of the kids. They all have such funny fake smiles.
We had a great time! I must say though that on days like today I can't help but get excited thinking about 2 years from now and how much easier things like this will be to do as a family. I tend to have unrealistic expectations when planning days like today. But we actually got out of the house and back again without my stress level getting too high. Miraculous!
Right before we left I was sitting in this nice wooden rocker outside the store at the farm. I was holding Heidi who had finally fell asleep and Eden was standing next to me hanging on my leg. A woman came up to her, bent down and said in Eden's ear, "You are so sweet I could just take you home." Eden just smiled and the woman continued talking to her. I was a little unsure for a moment but started relaxing when her daughter started talking to me. Turns out the daughter has adopted two children from Seoul Korea and she just was a bit curious about Eden. We talked for a bit and they both said, "Wow. You have your hands full!" And that was before Mark came back from buying kettle corn with the three boys. When they saw the rest of the kids their eyes got really wide and they started laughing. They said, "Oh...God bless you!" After we said our good-by's and as we walked to the car I thought to myself, "Yes. God has blessed me." I know they were saying it a bit sarcastically but it reminded me of the truth!
And that was our day!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

On to the next one - Mr. Judah

Judah.....where to start? How about I tell you some of the things he wrote about himself the first week of school. He had to write a word about himself for each letter of his name. Can't for the life of me remember what they are called. I giggled and then laughed out loud upon reading his. Fortunately he wasn't in the room.

J - Joyful
U - Uperman (?)
D - Dad (?)
A - Apple Luver (his spelling)
H - Horsepower (????)

He is so many things on any given day. He gets easily overwhelmed, is dramatic and emotional. He has an infectious giggle and the deepest chocolate eyes. He has gotten himself up every morning for school which has surprised me. He even woke me up this morning after I hit the wrong button on my alarm and fell back to sleep. Fortunately he hasn't found the snooze button on his alarm yet.

Since he operates with such intensity we can clash easily and quickly. I need a lot of emotional reserves to work him through his feelings (which are often untrue) and to be truthful, I don't feel like I have much reserves right now. It has been an interesting season in our relationship. I read something the other day that resonated with me and is causing me to shift my thinking. It was in regards to how you view your children and how you then treat them. So often parents (me included) view their children as a project. Who wants to feel like a project? I had that experience a few years back - I felt like I was someone's project and it felt horrible. You didn't feel respected at all. I do believe that there needs to be a level of mutual respect between parents and their children. They are individuals, have feelings, desire to be heard just like I want those things. I am not saying that it becomes a peer relationship. Far from that. But there are moments of friendship which make the correcting of character and heart issues easier.

I believe Judah needs to know I hear him. Even though his ramblings often are incoherent. He gets himself into an emotional tale spin and everything comes out jumbled. Mark and I look at each other sometimes with big question marks on our faces?

Judah said to me the other day, " are the best mom in the world! Even though we have our problems, you are the best mom!" I said, "Thank you Judah." And I walked away pondering the huge BUT in the middle. Even though we have our problems.........I wonder what he was remembering?

My main thing that I am working on right now is implementing more understanding, trying to hear him but not necessarily empathize if the feelings are unfounded and just view him as my son. My dear sensitive son! He is growing up far too fast and I think I am starting to wonder how to stay connected to your son when they get big. I know there is a natural withdrawal that will happen in some areas but I don't want them to encroach on the sweet bond we have.

I feel like this post came out more about me in regards to my relationship with Judah than about him. I think that is because I feel a bit unsure of where to go from here.

J - Joyful (Absolutely!)
U - Uperman (he is superman!)
D - Dad (Someday)
A - Apple Luver (Oh...he is definitely an apple lover!)
H - Horsepower (Umm....not sure)

He is my sweet boy who is now 8 1/2. Where has the time gone?! I love Judah to the ends of the earth!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Diversion

Of course I am already deviating from my "spotlighting" of my children. I just need to process and digest my week. I am sitting here on my couch under a blanket on a Friday evening. The three little ones are asleep (which means I need to go to bed) and the older boys are having a movie night with their dad downstairs. Which means I have some moments of solitude. I almost do not know what to do.

This week has been one of the harder ones I have had in a while. Frankly, I think it has been harder because of me. My mindset. My selfishness. My expectations. I posted something on facebook earlier today about a quote I had read once. Something to this effect: without sleep we all become tall two year olds. While this is funny there is so much truth in it. My behaviour becomes so similar to my toddlers when I become extremely tired. My emotional reserves become shallow and I seem to justify my shortness and my frustration. On Sunday Eden started with fever and diarrhea. She went at least 20 times just on Sunday. Almost all of that was in the potty so that made it a bit more manageable. The diarrhea continued on Monday, Tuesday....and is till happening. Not 20 times a day but at least 5. It is horrible. Bringing back memories of the whole giardia experience when we brought her home. I had her to the dr today but they confirmed what I was already suspecting - more than likely viral. The fever only lasted 2 days but the beautiful stench has continued! Tristan also has a touch of it. I am so thankful they both potty trained within the past 3 weeks or we would have gone through tremendous amounts of diapers by now.

Eden has also embarked on something new. Wake fullness in the dead of night. About 3 weeks ago she started waking up in the middle of the night - wide awake and ready to go! She has always been a sound sleeper so this is still confusing to me. This past week she has been awake for at least 2 hours every night except one. Some nights longer than 2 hours. She appears in our room, one of us takes her back to her bed, she reappears 15 minutes later, we take her back to her bed, 15 minutes later - you get the point. For 2-3 hours!! It is brutal! I have had a difficult time functioning this week so I am glad Steffany challenged me to 30 days of thankfulness. I have been waking up not so thankful but have been looking for things throughout the day to keep myself focused on gratefulness! Although I am hoping for some resolution to her sleeplessness soon. Any ideas anyone? I am at a loss as to what to do. Look at this sweet face. Somehow it isn't nearly as sweet at 2:30 in the morning. And look at how beautiful her pearly whites are. Want to see what kind of damage they can inflict on her brother?
She is the first one of our children to be a biter. Again - trying to curb this behaviour. She puts everything in her mouth all the time and when someone is frustrating her she goes in for the kill!! Look at that bite mark! It was horrible!!

And then there is baby girl. Who I hear stirring in her crib. Why? It is nearly 10 o'clock!
A close up of my sweet girl. She is changing so much! The rolls seem to increase daily.
Judah and his girl!
Heidi is still in our room since we do not quite trust Eden. And why do we not trust her you ask? Hmmm....could it be her climbing abilities? As soon as any of the kids hear Heidi on the monitor they ask if they can go talk to her. On this particular day I told Tristan and Eden they could talk to her while I finished putting the lunch dishes in the dishwasher. (And yes ... Tristan is still wearing his jammies after lunch) I soon realized that the noises coming through the monitor were not of them talking to Heidi. I grabbed the camera and this is what I found.
I caught a moment between brothers one day after Judah got home from school. They went outside after having a snack, climbed onto the garage roof (it is pretty low) and were talking. They didn't realize I was taking their picture. I am sure they picked this spot since they have a hard time finding any privacy from the younger ones. I just stood and watched them for a few moments because I found the site so sweet.
The boys and I took a hike on the mountain that is at the back of our property.
And that my friends is a wrap! I am tired and hopeful that tonight may yield better sleep results at the Eveleth house!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Shane is First

So, when you have multiple children how do you decide who to spotlight first? Do you go oldest to youngest or vice versa? Do you randomly pick? I am kind of weird about things like this. So I wrote all of my children's names down on separate papers, folded them and will pick one everyday. How's that for attempting to be fair?

Shane Andrew. He is the meaning of his name - "A gift from God" & "strong man". He is sensitive, helpful, sugary sweet as well as bull-headed and so stubborn. He will play for hours with the little ones helping them with whatever is frustrating them. He is tuned in to their needs in a way that is almost not normal for a 6 year old. I am amazed on a daily basis by how intuitive he is.

Along with all his sweetness comes an inner strength that is crazy!! It will serve him so well later in life if we can continue to teach him how to respect the authority in his life. His personality is such that he needs to feel in control of his life so we try to word things in a way that he is making decisions instead of us just making demands. The moment he feels like we are not giving him a choice the war begins. I told him recently that one of his greatest gifts is the inner strength that God has given him. I explained to him that he is definitely a leader (very evident) but with our greatest strength also comes our greatest weakness. I explained that the weakness typically found in a strong man (or woman) is their inability to listen to others. They feel like they know what is best and they have a hard time hearing from others - whether it be a parent, a boss, a teacher, a spouse, a friend and most importantly God. He seemed to grasp some of it. I told him that I love his strength but he needs to be willing to let us teach him when it is appropriate to exert it.

We made the decision to home school him one more year. We felt like there was still a disconnect with him somewhere - that our hearts weren't meshing completely. I have seen a few things happen since Judah has gone to school. He has become super, super talkative with me during the day. To the point of making me almost nuts! He has never been a talker. And that is simply because Judah talks enough for the whole family most of the time. So he is becoming much more of a communicator which I didn't even realize was lacking until now. He also has become very affectionate with me which I love. We are spending time together everyday both in doing his schoolwork and I am also trying to do something fun with him on a daily basis. While we have seen improvement we have also encountered some not so fun things over the past weeks.

Take for instance last week. When I say Shane has a super strong will I am not in any way kidding. Last Wednesday at 8:30 I said it was time to start his school work. We sat on the couch to do his reading and he said, "I will read the whole story except for the first page." It started out as a bit of a joke. I said, "Well....I didn't ask you if you wanted to read the story. This is something you need to do for school so just get started." He preceded to tell me he was not going to read the first page. Now...just so we are all on the same page (no pun intended) there were only two sentences on the first page. I had him sit at the kitchen table and I said, "When you are ready to read just let me know." Two hours later Tristan and Eden ask for a snack so I am getting them a snack when Shane asks for one too. I said, "I would love to get you a snack Shane. But I am going to need you to do your reading first." I thought for sure this would motivate him. Nooooo!!! Twelve o'clock rolls around. By now he had been sitting with nothing to do for 3 1/2 hours except stare at his reading book. His reading would have taken him 15 minutes. I called Mark and asked him if I was being unreasonable and he assured me that I was not. I said to Shane, "I just want to make sure you understand I am not saying you may not eat. I am just saying you need to start and complete your reading first." He completely understood. We sat at the table to eat lunch and the whole time Shane was sitting there glaring at me omitting the occasional growl or something that sounded like a growl. So I had him sit on the couch while we ate our lunch and he actually fell asleep. We ended up having to pick Judah up from school to take him to a dentist appointment and we arrived home about 4:30. He hadn't eaten since 7:00 that morning!! He finally did his reading at 5:00, sat up with the family for dinner and was quite proud of the fact that he had completed his reading. He held out for 8 1/2 hours!!! I was completely emotionally exhausted by the end of the day. It took all the strength in me to go about my day acting like everything was fine and I wasn't frustrated with him. The whole time I was out of my mind frustrated with him!!! I know at one point he could see my frustration so I removed myself from the kitchen and went downstairs. I don't know how he knew I was frustrated. Maybe it had something to do with me putting the dishes in the dishwasher with a lot of gusto and basically slamming the dishwasher door! Ahhh!!!

All that to say this: he has a will of iron. If he doesn't want to try what we are having for dinner he will choose not to eat for the rest of the day. The whole "you need to try a bite" doesn't work for him. Usually. But yesterday I saw two different instances where he submitted his will and I was so encouraged. He was doing an assessment test on reading/comprehension and they can take a while. Half-way through he was not going to do anymore. I thought oh great! Here we go again. After 10 minutes he reluctantly completed the test without any complaining. And then again last evening at dinner time. I made lasagna and he wasn't choosing not to eat. No problem. He sat at the table happily and talked with us as we ate. About 15 minutes after we were finished eating he decided he would eat some lasagna. What??? He sat up, ate a big helping, jumped down and went on his merry way! Two times in one day when he responded in a way that is not typical for him. I find encouragement in that! Now some may say, " shouldn't have let him come back after you were all finished eating." I say, "are you kidding? He never complies and eats something after determining he doesn't want it. I will let him eat it whenever he wants as long as he finally eats some dinner."

Mark is sure he would be a great in acquisitions and negotiations. He would have no problem walking away if he didn't get what he wanted. So true!! I am convinced he will not be a follower but will instead walk with integrity and lead. Of course that is if we can continue to teach him when it is appropriate to exert his will power.

He informed me two nights ago after seeing a slew of pictures of children in Sierra Leone who are orphaned, digging through trash for food, living in trash, etc. that he is going to adopt alot of children when he grows up! He has a hard time knowing there are children who have no one taking care of them and I have no doubt that he will be an advocate for the forgotten children of the world! It is in him! He is so tender. He asks often for us to adopt again.

I love this child!! I love his heart, his iron will, his tenderness and his tenacity. I pray often for wisdom to parent this one. I in no way want to squelch his strength. I know I am far from doing this perfectly with any of my children so I don't want anyone reading this to think I must hold it together all the time. That is far, far from the truth. My anger gets the best of me quicker than I would like to admit. When those days happen I try to start over new the next day by walking away from guilt, talking with whatever child I treated wrongly and making things right. I have to do this whole process quite often. Just wanted to throw in a disclaimer as I talk about my children that I am far from a perfect parent. In fact....I may as well start saving for their counseling/therapy fund.

Day 2

My thankful list is on the righthand side of my blog. Hopefully I will have the time later today to spotlight one of my children.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day 1

So my bloggy friend put out a challenge to take the next 30 days and write down something we are grateful for everyday! I am taking her up on the challenge since I know I am need of some perspective change. I will list a few things everyday and I am sure by the 30th day I will realize how incredibly blessed I really am. I also am going to make an attempt over the next week to highlight each of my children - complete with funny stories (and believe me I have some seriously funny stories) as well as pictures of them.

But as for today.....I am grateful I had the chance to take a half mile walk in the chilly fall air even though I held Tristan the whole time. It gave me some snuggle time as well as a nice little workout. I am thankful for the multiple hugs I receive everyday. I am thankful that I have one child in diapers!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Weekly Post

Obviously, my blogging isn't high on my priority list right now. I don't feel like taking the time to upload photos and who really likes to just read my ramblings? What fun is a post without pictures? We have one child successfully potty trained without much trouble and now Miss Eden has decided she would like the attention that accompanies using the potty. We are now in the midst of training her and she is doing better than I expected. Again, I always let my children initiate (controversial I'm sure) and it works for us. She has been making it to the potty 2-3 times a day for the past week and yesterday I allowed her to wear underwear. She did really good and even puts herself on the potty when she needs to go. If I am unaware she is on the potty she brings her pants and undies to me when she is done. Complete with a huge smile and anticipation of some m & m's. So it appears as though we have gone from 3 in diapers to 1 within a month. That, my friends, is something to celebrate!!

Last week we had Judah's back to school night. I had hoped to maybe just have it be Mark, Shane and I go with Judah but he was insistent that his whole family go. He said he had told his classmates that he would bring his family. I cannot say enough good things about his teacher. She is so high energy and loves the kids. She has made herself so accessible to us. She gave us her home number and her cell number and said to call anytime. Is that normal? I don't know if it is since this is the first year he is in school. He has his first spelling test last week and got 100% plus 2 bonus points. He was thrilled! And I was a bit proud. :) The funniest part of back to school night was something Mark overheard Judah telling his friends. We were all in the cafeteria as the principle was going over some things with the families. A bunch of the boys in Judah's class were sitting together and doing typical boy things. Like trying to stuff their entire fist in their mouth. None of them were successful but Judah told the boys with a bit of pride, "Do you see my sister over there? My little brown sister? She can put her fist in her mouth!" How funny. His little brown sister! One time a few months ago Judah asked me if Ethiopian's have big mouths because Eden has a big mouth. Decent logic I guess. But I informed him that just because Eden is a certain way doesn't mean all Ethiopian's are that way. Just like Caucasian people - we are all different.

I do think Eden is aware of her skin color. I don't think she is necessarily making the association that her skin is a different color than the rest of her families. But she usually is found toting around her brown baby dolls and the white baby dolls are left in the basket.

I overheard her consoling Heidi today by saying, "I'm coming sweetie." I'm sure she was already there and had possibly even contributed to the crying but nevertheless - she was attempting to remedy the situation. Eden's energy levels seem to suck the energy right out of me! She is always, always on the move and has now phased out of her naps. I really looked forward to those 1 1/2 - 2 hour naps in the afternoon. It gave me an opportunity to recharge. But now she wakes up at 6:30 and goes non-stop until shortly after 7:30 in the evening. We have moved her bedtime up a bit because she isn't napping. She is usually ready and I am always ready!! :)

On a completely different note - I have been meaning to encourage folks to head over to for quite some time now. It is an amazing site and I would challenge anyone who looks at the site to consider the gift of adoption to any of these children. Spend a little time on the site looking over the vision, the heart and advocacy for orphan awareness. I know there are more people who I love that have a home to share and love to give. There is one quote on the site I like: You can't change the whole world by helping one.....but for that one the whole world changes!! This isn't a site just for adoption but mentoring as well. So take a few minutes and look around.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sweet Pictures

My friend Tori came over this morning to take some pictures of Heidi for her website. She had some really cute ideas and I am thrilled with the pictures! Head on over to her website and you can find 5 sweet pictures from this morning. About halfway down her webpage you will find them. If you live in the State College area and you need beautiful pictures for a great price she is your girl!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Hodge Podge

Where to start. Hmmm.....I feel like so much is happening on a daily basis that it is nearly impossible to absorb it all. I am amazed that within the span of a minute I can go from feeling completely at peace, relaxed, enjoying the day to feeling irritated, overwhelmed, like pulling every last strand of hair from my head...well you get the picture. It is life people. I am learning I have seasons of ease and seasons of being stretched. I am realizing something obvious. My life is really not my own. I have known this for a long time of course. But what I am realizing is that I can either fight it or embrace the process of letting go of myself more and more. I am having a moment of clarity right now and can see that it is better for everyone involved if I submit to the process of putting my will aside and living for others. This does not mean I am put on the back burner. In order for me to stay emotionally healthy and sane I need moments for myself. But overall when I live to serve my family I am a much happier person.

We are settling into our new routine rather nicely. Judah has 4 days of school under his belt and so far has been enjoying it. I was surprised at how big and mean the bus looked the first day he got on and it pulled away. It looked like it had swallowed him and I wasn't sure if it would keep him or deposit him back later in the day. Sure enough....he arrived unscathed and upon being asked what he thought he said, "Awesome!" On the second day of school he forgot his homework and on day 3 he thought maybe he should stay home and sleep since he was tired. It was really kind of funny.

Shane has had a harder time adjusting. He looks lost without Judah and seems almost displaced. He has been doing well on his schoolwork although his attitude hasn't improved at all from last year. We are coming up with some incentives and ways to hopefully encourage a more cooperative attitude. He was very disappointed on Friday because he was going to have a lunch date with mom and date and it had to be postponed because he woke up with fever. We had taken Judah out for a dinner date last week and this week was Shane's turn. He tried to convince me that he would be fine but his temp was almost 101 at the point. He slept most of the day.

Tristan is now completely potty trained!! Yippee!! I decided to just let him initiate when he was ready (I did this with Judah and Shane too) It seems to work so much better this way. There are hardly any accidents and you go from diapers to undies in a day! He is very proud of himself and still thinks he should get m & m's for doing his business. I oblige because I am still so elated to be only changing diapers on 2 kids instead of 3.

Eden is her usual feisty self - full of spirit, spunk, laughter and bossiness. She has decided sleep really isn't a high priority and neither is staying in her bed. We are trying to redirect her so she decides that staying in bed is a good idea.

Heidi now is wearing the clothes Eden wore after arriving home. Heidi will be 5 months old this week and has passed Eden's size upon arriving home at 10 months. It seems almost impossible that she is that big already. She is an absolute delight and we still find it hard to believe that she is the same baby that resided here for those three long months.

This week my thoughts have been full of adoption again and what an amazing thing it is to give a child a family. Someday, when we are a little further into the process, I will share some of the struggles we have encountered over the past year. I have had moments where I questioned our decision but in those moments I have been gently reminded of God's heart for the orphan. I am overwhelmed when I think of the numbers of children who are waiting but I know this is not a surprise to my Father. The Word says he sets the lonely in families and I believe we need to do our part in making that happen. The only way He can set them in families is if the families will open up their hearts and homes. Even in the midst of my days when I feel overwhelmed I still find my heart wondering if we have any more children out there somewhere. I don't think a day goes by that there isn't some kind of internal struggle in that regard. Some days I feel like there is no way and the next day I think, "How can we not?"

We know numerous people right now who are on the cusp of bringing children home. And what I find amazing is they are mostly older children. Lana and Larry, who we met in Ethiopia a little over a year ago, are returning to bring home sisters who are 6 and 8. This will be child number 7 and 8 for them. Another family we know are leaving in November to bring home their 9 year old daughter from China. Another family is leaving this week to bring home their 2 1/2 year old son from the Philippines. Another family from my hometown area is trying to bring their son home from Uganda right now. I do not know them personally but some of my family knows them. You can follow their journey at Please be praying for things to work in their favor. There is a desperation that seems to almost consume a parent when they are waiting. Especially when the fate of their child is hanging in the balance. So to all out there who may read this blog, who believe that God hears us when we talk to Him please pray for this family. That their son will be able to come home!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Peaceful Slumber

Even an indignant 2 year old who is convinced she is not tired cannot help but fall prey to a hammock on a beautiful summer afternoon! I only wish I were snuggled in next to her.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Life happens

I am lacking in spare time right now. And some things take the back seat when you have less time. Like a frivolous blog. One of these days I'll get back to posting on a regular basis. Right now I am just happy if everyone is fed, dressed in clean clothes and within sight. Somedays I'm happy if they are within yelling distance. But most of the time they stay where I can spot them.

Life has settled into a nice normal once again. It will be switched up soon with Judah starting school and me teaching Shane but all the same it will be a nice routine. I love summer but I start longing for more routine and structure that comes with school. My children have started getting slightly cantankerous lately and it makes a mother begin to wonder what insanity looks like. I look in the mirror and wonder........

Most of our days have lots of laughter but seems like equal amounts of yelling, hitting, punching, biting, etc. I hold onto the hope that they will not be biting and punching when they are 30. At least I don't think any of my siblings still act that way.

Heidi has turned into a completely different child over the past month. She has become a champion napper, Happy to just lay on the floor and watch the mayhem unfold around her. Smiley all the time. Rarely cries! Just all around sweet. In fact her nickname is sugar!! I do not ever remember feeling the depth of love so early for any of my children. I think it happened quicker with each child. But my feelings have caught me off guard. She has herself a case of pink eye right now but it is clearing up beautifully with the eyedrops.

Eden is high energy, high volume, high speed.....all day long! We are continuing to work with her on her demanding little self. She has been responding beautifully to us through this process. She is learning how to make a good choice when given the chance and we are watching her behaviour change. doesn't work all the time but we are seeing enough change to be very happy. She brings so much joy to our house and also brings lots of yelling. Tristan and Judah seem to fall for her antagonistic ways very quickly which brings her much delight. Example: first thing in the morning at the breakfast table. She will be eating some cereal and Judah will come to the table to get some food. She will say to him, "Not lots Judah. Not lots." To which he graciously responds, "Eden. You can't tell me how much food I can have."

Tristan just had his 3 year check up this week. He weighed in at 30 pounds which is 5 pounds lighter than either of his brothers at the same age. He is a little guy and takes after my side of the family more. Exceedingly sweet! We had a little success this week with the whole realm of going on the potty. M & M's and matchbox cars are a good incentive for a little boy. We are making progress. Conversation between Tristan and his dad this week: While at a playground Mark noticed a piece of broken playground equipment. He said, "Oh no Tristan. It's broken. What should we do?" Tristan responded, "We need to fix it." Mark said, "I don't have the tools to fix that, buddy." Tristan said, "We need to get a new one." Mark: "Where will we get a new one?" Tristan: "At the yard sale." And then Tristan stood, looked around and said, "I don't see the yard sale."

Shane has been more than abundant on the energy front. He just seems to roll, tumble and wrestle his way from outside to inside, upstairs to downstairs, from one side of the living room to the other get the idea. After being crabby those three weeks while on medicine he seems to be back to his endearing little self. My favorite conversation with Shane lately was this: I was telling him that he is going to be an amazing father someday (premature possibly but he is so caring with the little ones). I told him that it would be best if he found a good woman first. I then started talking to him and Judah about what I want to see in the woman they marry - kind hearted, caring, love Jesus, love them tons, etc. etc. I told Shane that if he needs help finding a girl that I'm sure his daddy and I can find a good one when he gets older. He said, "Maybe you can find her at a restaurant." Huh? Mark said maybe he remembers having a waitress that he thought was pretty. I think it has to do with his love of food and he just figures that if he finds a girl at a restaurant he will get to eat chicken fingers and fries for the rest of his life.

Judah is getting both excited and a bit apprehensive about school. Mostly excited though. We had a picnic this past week with his teacher and both third grade classes. We met some parents and he met some new friends. His teacher is amazing and is very high energy! I think he will thrive in school especially with his friend Luke by his side. Judah told me today that he thinks one of the gifts God gave him is creativity. I think he may be right. He then said he thinks Tristan's gift is whining. Uh, that isn't really a gift but yes. He does tend to whine a bit too much.

I am trying to enjoy my days and not think so much about the future. I can get excited thinking about what life will be like in a year or two and miss the fun moments now. Somehow the demands and screaming of little children don't equate as fun for me. But this time is fleeting and I don't want to miss the snippets of joy in my children's eyes even on the long days. I want them to see joy in my eyes, hear love in my voice and feel a peace in our home.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Do I need to say anything more? Slightly terrifying! When did my son become big enough to ride a huge four wheeler? If he is big enough is still up for debate. His father didn't think it necessary to consult me first. Upon seeing my expression he told me why he felt things were okay. He had the four wheeler in low, couldn't go much more than 15 mph, etc. etc.
Just look how happy he is!! So incredibly proud of himself. And his father is equally as proud!

And this is how the rest of them roll. Yes....I am aware that none of them have helmets. Please do not beat me up!! They go quite slow and are pretty safe - as far as I can tell. Wouldn't be my first choice but at least it keeps them off of the trampoline. I wish I could convince Mark to pack the trampoline up and get it out of our yard. Anyone want to send any scary stories our way that will help with my attempts? I'm sure anyone in the medical profession can help me out. Elam? Lana? Olivia? Anyone?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Things are Changin'

I was all ready to upload some photos and realized the camera is with my husband. He took Judah and Shane fishing for the day and that is why I am actually having a few moments to sit down. I have only one child who is awake and in action right now. Feels kind of strange but oh so lovely!!

First of all I will fill you in on the change that is coming. We deliberated, discussed and decided to enroll Judah in school this year. We are very confident this is the best decision at this point since I am still in a bit of survival mode. Although things are evening out quite beautifully here as of late. Still....I do not have 4 hours a day to sit and help, teach and monitor Judah as he works. We took him in to visit the elementary school and he was hooked!! It helps that one of his dear friends (our neighbors grandson) will be in his class! There are two 3rd grade classes at the school and both classes have only 12 or 13 kids in them! Private school size classes!! We were blown away by how informative, helpful and excited the principal and teachers were to meet him. They came in special to show him and us around the school. As much as I love teaching the boys I was feeling this weight bearing down on me that I knew was not going to be productive both in my teaching and most importantly in my ability to mother my children. I feel like I can breathe deeply again.

As a result of enrolling him in school I will have a bit of extra time throughout the day which I am hoping to spend with the little munchkins. I will still be doing first grade with Shane but he has an entirely different learning style than Judah and tends to run with things with very little instruction. I am hoping to spend a little more quality time with Eden as we are noticing some behavioral things with her that just need some tweaking.

As I have been mothering Heidi I have realized how much bonding does take place in those first few months. I look at Heidi and think, "What would happen if suddenly I was taken out of her life and misplaced with random strangers?" Eden was almost 3 months old when her mother passed away and for the next 2 months we really do not know who was taking care of her. I am sure the care she received while adequate was not the same as having a mother who was connecting, loving and nurturing her. And then for the next 5 months she had numerous caregivers at the orphanage. I talked extensively with another adoptive mother (who is a dear friend) who has been doing research and studying attachments issues and disorders for her masters. I was explaining some of the behaviors we were noticing in Eden and she confirmed that yes.....we need to really work on the bond. Eden is very secure and knows she is loved. But sometimes I think she views women in general as "mom". She knows I am her mom and I operate as her mother but she gravitates towards other women when she perceives me as being distant. That can be from enforcing boundaries with her or simply from helping one of the other children with something. This is really hard to explain in writing since it sounds almost petty. But trust me when I say there are definitely things I am encountering with her that I haven't with our other children. Nothing horrible but things that still need some attention and redirection. I think she will benefit greatly from having her mom "freed up" a little more.

I had Heidi to the doctor last week for her 4 month check up. She weighed in at 14 lbs 14 ozs and 25 inches long. She isn't a tiny little peanut anymore! We are noticing similarities in her and Judah at this point. Both very sensitive as babies. She prefers to be home and does a lot of screaming anytime we go to someone else's house. We were at my sister's house on Saturday for my nephews graduation/going away party and she cried almost the entire time! As soon as we got home she was her happy, smiley self. Last night I tried to go play bunko with my friends and she started screaming as soon as I walked into the house. I decided it wasn't worth listening to her scream all night, left and she was happy as a clam upon entering our house. Someone made the comment that I must feel so trapped. You know.....I don't feel trapped at all! I fortunately enjoy being home plus I know she will be running around in a matter of months and those quiet moments of her snuggling with me will be over.

And now I hear her waking up! So....I will run now, feed my child, change some diapers and confiscate the camera upon the fishermen's return. I have some cute pictures for you all!!