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.