Friday, April 30, 2010

Because Every Mother Matters

A few months ago I posted about my friend Steffany and Because Every Mother Matters. Some of you helped pay for a surgery for a mother in Ethiopia with a prolapsed uterus for which we were so thankful! The mother had her surgery, came through beautifully but while still in the hospital it was discovered she had fairly advanced cancer. Due to being at a medical facility her life was prolonged a few months much to the gratefulness of her husband and children. She did die recently from the cancer but a heartfelt thanks from her husband to all who helped prolong her life. They were so thankful!

Steffany is at it again!! Head on over to her blog and donate again to help fund an Ethiopian clinic for maternity patients. You will read some statistics on her blog but did you know that 1 in 11 women die from pregnancy related issues in Africa!! I almost cannot wrap my head around the numbers. Funds are being raised to build the clinic in Ethiopia with a goal of raising $5,000 by Mothers Day. Consider donating in honor of your mother or ask to have a donation given in your honor. Let's face it: we do not need more stuff! Help save the lives of some mother's this year for mother's day!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Feeling Reminiscent

The first picture we received of Eden. Just looking back through my adoption file on my email account and pulled them up.
Picture #2. In every picture she looked so terrified and it made my heart ache.

Picture #3 which we recieved shortly before we traveled.
So there is my short trip down memory lane this Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Bit More on Parenting an Adopted Child

A few weeks ago I opened up a bit and wrote about some of our more personal struggles with Eden. I have received so much encouragement from your comments and for that I am grateful! We have again had some not so fun behavior but let me share some of the sweet moments in the midst.

Eden is back to do tremendous amounts of screaming, kicking while writhing on the floor, yelling at get the picture. On the advice of someone I really respect I have been taking a bit of a different approach with her. When the behavior starts I calmly yet firmly tell her that until she done screaming at me I cannot talk to her, look at her or touch/hold her. And then I continue to go about my business. I am not isolating her because I remain in the room with her (very important) and I am not rejecting her. She knows as soon as she is done my arms are waiting to hold her and my words are quick to sooth her. The amount of time she screams is lessening and she is much quicker to pick herself up and say, "I am done screaming now."

Along with that she has been back to her daily mantra of "I am your friend mommy." "I am your girl."

In the midst of her mantra she has added some new ones which make me smile and are the sweet moments I mentioned. Her two new ones are, "You are my best buddy." "You make me happy."

It is the little things that make a mother's heart sing. I took the kids to the library today. While they were playing Eden came over to me, hugged me and said, "I love you." Seems normal, right? She didn't initiate affection with me too often until just recently. I think we are making progress. Having her stop in the midst of her play, come initiate affection and return to her play is big for me!

I read a few things lately that have helped me keep things in focus. I can't take credit for the words so don't start thinking I am brilliant or something.

If we as parents had a child with a physical disability we wouldn't dream of trying to tell them to do something outside of their limitations. For instance, if your child were in a wheelchair and unable to walk you wouldn't dream of telling them to get up and clean their room. Or if they had scoliosis you wouldn't tell them to "sit up straight."

When you are parenting a child who has inner wounds that are not visible it is harder to keep that in focus. I have been reminding myself daily that my sweet daughter carries internal wounds that are not visible to my physical eye. But there is Someone who can see them. And if I continue to ask Him for wisdom in how to parent this treasure so her heart is able to heal and be whole I believe He will show me.

And some may think we are over analyzing things because how could a little girl who is 10 months old when she comes home have any long-lasting affects of her "previous life?" I am much more in tune with the bonding process this time around with Heidi. And I know that she would be a completely different little girl had I suddenly disappeared from her life only to be replaced with Lord only knows how many other people. It has an affect! Trust me!

Mark and I were talking the other night about how it is becoming so much more apparent to us that we have to handle her a little differently. Now....this may go against some people and their parenting philosophies. But I know that with each of my children and their distinct giftings and personalities that we have to approach teaching and guiding them in different ways. Does this mean you love one more than another? Absolutely not! You love them, guide them, discipline them in different ways so that they can be effectively guided through life. And she is no different than the boys. She needs very firm boundaries but delicate discipline and guidance.

Oh...what we get ourselves into when we sign up for this whole parenting endeavor!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Finally....The Easter Breakdown

There is a reason it has taken two weeks for me to write about Easter. It has taken nearly that long to recuperate. Well....not really. But weekends that include lots of family time, interrupted schedules, loads of sugary sweet goodness make grumpy kids. Not the family time but all the other stuff that goes along with it. After the grand egg hunt extravaganza some of the kids were relaxing on the hillside. Riley, Avery, Cassie, Eden and Tristan!
Why are my two the only ones making the crazy faces? The other three look so posed, composed and beautiful.
This was taken the day before at my in-laws. Heidi was tuckered out so Grace took her for a stroll. It worked perfectly!

Eden playing a little field hockey with great uncle Charlie.
Tristan got in on the field hockey action too.
But the highlight of my Easter was meeting a dear friend. How can you meet a dear friend, you ask? The story goes like this: Sometime around a year and half ago I received a phone call from a woman who lived near my hometown. She had gotten my number from my sister-in-law Sharon and had some questions about our Ethiopian adoption. The first initial phone call we talked for an hour!! She had lots of questions and I did my best to answer them. They were on the cusp of beginning an Ethiopian adoption but hadn't picked an agency yet. Shortly after our first phone call they decided on an agency and the rest is history. We talked numerous times, have emailed lots of times and I waited anxiously for their referral.
Long story short they arrived home I believe sometime around 2 months ago with two beautiful babies - Anna and Gabriel! They have been attending the church my brother pastors and since we attended there on Easter Sunday to witness the baptism of my niece Riley (very cool) we finally met in person.
It is one of those surreal moments, you know? We got there a few minutes late but I spotted her husband Jim in the foyer area right away. How could anyone miss little Anna nestled in her arms. I instantly had tears which I fought to control. It was an instant flashback for me. The tiny little person, petite feet, smooth many memories! We walked into the sanctuary area and I saw Ang standing in the back with Gabriel. I am crying again just remembering. There is something precious about meeting another adoptive mom. The bond is instant and runs deep. There are things we walk through and deal with that other mom's cannot fully grasp. Of course we both cried. Who wouldn't?
And the neatest part for me was that they went through the same agency as we did so our babies come from the same orphanage. Same baby room. Probably had some of the same nannies!
Three of Jim and Ang's children : Julia, Gabriel and Anna. Eden was slightly infatuated with them. More than she usually is with babies.
We were the last people to leave I think because we were working to tear Eden away from Anna.

Tristan got in on the shot too. Are they not beautiful?
Eden having trouble understanding personal space. Those poor children were pretty much mauled by the time we left.
Now....Ang has no idea I was going to write this and I am no way trying to exalt a person. She is extremely humble and is very honest with her life. But I just want to dispel a myth once again about adoption. That if you adopt you must have lots of money. Because my goodness!! How would one ever afford to adopt? What if adopting meant that you had to quit your job so you could stay home with your babies? What if because you made the decision to stay home with you babies and were loosing an income you had to sell your home and downsize a bit? Wouldn't that be radical? And what if your house sold and you still didn't have another home to move into? Why would one do that?
That is what Jim and Ang have done. They followed God's heart for adoption and it meant a major life change for them. Major! Quitting a job, selling a property with acreage, buying a place in town all for the sake of their children! That my friends is crazy love!!! I love meeting people who are not satisfied with the status quo, who know where true treasure is and adjust their lives to store up that treasure!! If you want to read a bit more of their story head on over to

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reason to Celebrate

Today we have two very fun things to celebrate. One is much more monumental than the other but both will be celebrated! The first exciting thing is Shane is now cast free!! The walking cast came off this morning and after all the kids had a good whiff of the cast decided it needed to be placed in a bag to make the trek home. So no more of the following shenanigans!!

He is pretty happy although it will take a while to feel steady on his "new" leg. He is shuffling around and being very tentative but the doctor said he will probably have a limp for almost two more weeks. Which means I am pretty sure I will be winning the bet against my husband which was this: he was sure Shane would be running in a day and I said probably not likely. So....I am going to request a nap as my winnings!! Sounds lame (no pun intended) but it would be like water to my soul right now.
Second celebratory happenings at our house today - Heidi has now graced our lives for a full year. Yup!! She has her first birthday and the kids are beyond excited!!
I love this picture of Heidi in her swing. The crazy eyebrows, the rolls on her tiny arms, the little dimple high up on her cheek.....
Looking a little more "normal". She enjoys flying in her swing and giggles profusely as we push her. Tristan and Eden always offer to push her but end up getting hit by the swing on its return flight. Not sure how long it will take them to learn to step back a bit. Until they do it will be bruises and tears!
She loves watching the train with everyone else now. When she hears a train coming she scurries to the couch and waits for someone to help her up. The train never gets old and I never tire of watching the wonder on their faces as they count the cars and state the color of the cars as they pass.
I love her!! She is precious beyond words!
Playing pat-a-cake with Shane. She likes to clap her own hands now.
I am so grateful for this little girl. Having another little girl in the house has been very fun. But in true fashion I am going to be honest as well. Buckle up people.
This year has also been one of the hardest years of my life. That sounds dramatic, right? I have had to push through loads of fatigue, dig down deep into reserves I didn't know existed (and sometimes the reserves are empty) and have muddled my way through loving my family in the midst of it all. I have messed up countless times and many days want to sit and cry from sheer exhaustion. This little girl still gets up 5-6 times - every night!! I occasionally get a 3 hour stretch of sleep. Usually it is just shy of 2 hours when she is crying again. I have 6 recently pulled out my "Solve your child's sleep problem" book which is phenomenal. It was so helpful with Tristan's sleep issues but hers are different. She has no problem getting herself to sleep at nap time and bedtime. We put her in her crib with her blankie, she sucks her thumb and off she goes into blissful slumber. But when she awakens during the night, which is normal for all sleep cycles, she becomes completely alert and wants her momma. She cannot seem to soothe herself back to sleep.
I have never been a "cry it out" mom. I shared a while back about my struggle with fear and as a result want to make sure my children get a response when they call. I never want them to feel insecure or alone. And I am sure I have compounded the problem because I respond quickly so Tristan and Eden are not awakened by her crying.
What happens though is every few weeks my body seems to crash. Like my body doesn't want to move. Seriously. I sit and my body feels like a big hunk of lead. At least what I imagine lead feels like. Sometimes when those days hit emotionally I am still "up" and so I push through. Those are the moments my reserves comes in handy. But days like body feels heavy and my emotional reserves are on empty. Suddenly, things don't feel as manageable and i become snippy with my kids and my husband. I want someone to tell me to just go to bed for a while. But that isn't feasible. So what do I do?
Sometimes I remain a bear. And sometimes, like right now, I begin to recite how blessed I am. goes.
Even though I am up all night I at least have a home to sit in. I am not on a dirt floor in a hut. And I don't have to carry water for 8 hours the next day that will only make my children sick.
Even though the laundry is still staring at me I can at least throw it in a machine and not have to carry it to a dirty river to rinse it out.
Even though I feel uninspired to make food for my family I am not digging in the dirt and finding termites to feed my children.
And I go on and on......suddenly things don't look so bad. And suddenly my reserves start filling back up.
And on that note I am eternally grateful for my God. Who knew that I needed a beautiful little girl, to take me to the end of myself, so that I would realized just how blessed my life really is. So instead of napping (in my dreams I am) I will go outside and play some basketball with my youngins' and then make some cupcakes to celebrate the life of my daughter. Three cheers for the craziness of life today!! And for children who scoot up next to you only to sneeze all over you. Yup! Just happened! Beautiful!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Saturday Silliness

We are all heading outside to do some cleanup on this brisk Saturday morning. I was in Tristan's room getting his clothes ready while he was using the bathroom. This is what I overhear:

Eden: Tristan, you have a penis?
Tristan: Yes but you only have a butt.
Eden: Oh.
Tristan: But I have a butt and a penis.

Apparently he feels like he is a bit more special than she who only has a butt. is outside to conquer the yard. I am sure I will hear many more informative conversations during the day. I usually do. If I hear anything earth shattering I will make sure to share.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Setting the Record Straight

There is a popular misconception that has been making its rounds. I have heard its deception in many conversations I have had with friends and strangers alike. It is the misconception that if a person has a lot of children they have been endowed with more than average amounts of grace and patience. Let me just say I have not found that statement to hold any truth at all. Here is what I have learned.

I have looked at other people's lives and said so many times that I don't think I could live their lives. Whether it be hardships they are facing, heartache they are trudging through or actual blessings they have been given. And do you know why I can't comprehend living their lives? Because God has not graced me to live their lives - he has graced me to live mine.

I have people say to me often, "I cannot imagine having 5 children. I only have "_" and can hardly keep my sanity. " Or I hear, "I don't feel like I could be a good mom to more than "_". First of all, for the record, I don't think 5 children is lots of kids. A lot of the blogs I read the families have 9 or 10 kids. is all relative.

But..back to the matter at hand. When we make comments like, "I cannot imagine having 5 kids" and "I don't think I could be a good mom to more than however many kids" we are clearly walking in our strength! If we control our lives and live a safe life we can manage everything by ourselves. When we begin to live outside of what feels humanly possible we see God's hand at work.

I have been stretched more this past year in many ways. Have they all been easy? No. Would I trade the lessons I have been learning? Never. Has Gods grace been evident? If I actually gave Him the room to work in me and through me. That is the thing about God. He doesn't push Himself on you. He is exceedingly patient but the moment we acknowledge our need for Him, He is there.

One morning this week I woke in my typical fashion. After an extremely restless night of being up 5 times with Heidi, I was not in the mood to be awakened by Eden at 5:50. I wish I could say I wake up with a smile and soft words for my kids. But usually I wake up pretty grumpy because frankly I feel like I have a right to be grumpy. Who wants to get up at 5:50 after being up all night? And why does Eden have to be so chipper first thing in the morning? Couldn't it take her 30 minutes to wake up?

Heidi had an ear infection and is now on round two of antibiotics since it didn't clear up. Those of you with children know what nights are like with sick kiddos. Enough whining. Sorry. I digress.

I woke up bright and early, grumpy like usual and said to Mark, "Seriously! How am I supposed to function on no sleep. God couldn't give us a child who sleeps? I can't do this today." Sad, huh? Hope you really didn't think I was something special because I am human in every way. These words have left my mouth more times than I can count. But this time something hit me. I am not supposed to do this on my own. In my weakness He is strong. Am I right?

So...I started my morning over and asked God to make that promise real and evident in my life that day. It was not a perfect day but I must say it was one of the best days we have had in a while. By simply being aware that allowing Him to live in me and sustain me I don't have to hold it all together.

We really cannot project ourselves into other people's lives and say whether we could live their lives. They aren't ours to live, remember? God's grace is available when we need it. And if God happens to hand life circumstances that feel overwhelming at the moment my guess is that in due time you will realize He has equipped you and graced you to walk them out with dignity.

Now....if only I could get a better grasp on living my life that way. There is never a shortage of opportunities on any given day.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Snapshots of Our Life

Life is busy. We can all agree on that. But I really can't complain about what my busy looks like. I am able to be home with my kids everyday and I am extremely grateful for my husband who works diligently to provide for us. We are blessed! This shot was taken shortly after Heidi woke up. Hence the puffy eyes. Poor girl gets those eyes from her mother. She is walking around everything at this point but doesn't seem overly anxious to be walking on her own. Which is fine with me! She is usually very content and now follows her siblings everywhere. It is not unusual for me to find her, Tristan and Eden playing in one of the bedrooms. And when she wakes up from her nap or in the morning a mad dash is made to her room by all the other kids. In fact, there have been numerous fights about who gets to go in to the room first. They truly adores her! She is usually still asleep when Judah leaves for school in the morning but one time this week he heard her before walking out the door. He asked if he could please go see Heidi before catching the bus. Pretty sweet.
I don't know what to do about her lack of hair. Maybe she could borrow some from her sister??

Joyce, I hope you are reading this while you are gone. You have wanted to see her hair like this for a long time and I am now delivering. Her hair had been in pom-pom's all week and I took them out and picked her hair out. This was the fantastic result!! She loved it!

I found Eden sitting on the steps nursing her baby. This baby was mine when I was a little girl. I remember getting it for Christmas shortly after my sister Beth and her husband brought Isaac home. I was in love with him and wanted a baby that looked like him. So my mom got me one for Christmas. I saved it and now it is one of Eden's favorite dolls.
Totally random picture. I went into Tristan's room and noticed he had tucked in some of his "fluffies". It was kind of freaky the way the monkey seemed to be looking at me.
What my living room looks like about 10 minutes after everyone has had breakfast. And every other room in the house follows suit shortly after.
Tristan trying to shield himself from the wind and Eden loving the wind. Could they be any more different?
Eden helping her dad with the front walks. She took her shirt in and tucked it into her pants - just like daddy.
Judah being a sheriff. He has some of the most random thoughts. But it makes him very endearing. One morning this week as we were walking out to the bus I noticed something lying in the grass that I had specifically asked him to put away the night before. I said, "Oh....look. The tennis racket is still in the grass." To which he responded, "Well, you know mom. Sometimes I am on patrol and can't do it right away." Which means he must have been hunting something.
Being Jedi's and wielding light sabers. Shane got his monster cast off yesterday and now has his walking cast on. He had been walking on his blue cast and now has to learn how to walk again using his knee.
So there you have it. A day in the life of us.