Friday, May 11, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

what's in a name?

Photo Challenge Submission

I just thought this would bless all of our friends and family who waited together with us to see this precious child smile.  Months and months of pictures after picture, always serious, always frowning...NOW look at her!!  If this isn't the face of Happiness and restoration, I don't know what is!  What tremendous joy she has been blessed with--plus she really likes flowers and twirly skirts and jewelry :-)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

catching up

So it's been a long while since I posted last.  I took a break from most things blog-related during the Christmas season because I had to reduce my list a little to protect my joy during the crazy.  I'm just now recovering from it all.  Christmas itself is busy for everyone, but we also sandwiched three birthdays before and after the holidays so it's especially tiring.  I love birthdays and I dread birthdays.  I love to give gifts and make a big to-do over the loves in my life...but I hate to watch them get older.  Elijah turned 9 in January...NINE!  Next year I will be in mourning--I'm not sure I will survive entering into the double digits.  Judah turned 5--so he and Canaan are 'the same' again.  Birthdays...I rather they grow and flourish in my brain, but my heart just wants everything to stay the same.  Maybe that's why I love photography? Hmmmm...

So today I was going to post about my most recent chaos: laundry.  I've googled and read and researched and pinterested until I can't anymore.  My laundry schedule, or rather 'lack thereof' has driven me crazy!  There HAD to be a better way.  So many women have more children than I and they are calm and collected in this do they do it??  I cannot settle on a plan that works for me.  When we were displaced and had to start from ground zero we had the 'opportunity' to purchase some new appliances.  We invested in a massive washer and dryer knowing that we would need the large capacity.  I hate front loaders so we got one of those top loading washers without the agitator in the center...I really love it and can fit all of the kids jeans from a week of wear into one load--with room for one or two pairs of Jared's.  Fabulous.  What's the problem?  I don't know.  I can't figure it out.  I have overhauled my plan several times with little improvement...this is my latest attempt...

The break down:
I basically do laundry in three loads-- colors, jeans, and whites (then the bonus sheets and towels every other week...don't judge, we shower before bed)  My friends have advised assigning a day to a different person...but each person doesn't fill up a load on their own and I refuse to buy more clothes just for this to work.  Here's what I'm trying now:  all of the girls' colors on Monday, all of the boys' colors on Tuesday, all of the kids' jeans on Wednesday, all of the whites on Thursday, all of the parents' colors on Friday, all of the parent's jeans with an extra load of towels or sheets depending on what week it is on Saturday and rest on Sunday.  Hang all shirts and khakis, fold jeans/shorts...We used to hang everything-- but the kids couldn't work the clothespins for pants and jeans are super easy to fold...we have one dresser for each gender and everyone gets two drawers plus a tupperware drawer for socks and underwear.  I sort the clothes into straightened piles and the kids hang them on hangers in the closet.  Yesterday, I made closet dividers so that the clothes stay separated as we are all in different sizes--this has been a MAJOR issue.  The clothes get mixed up and Canaan goes to school wearing Judah's shirt and Elijah's jeans...a mess!  THEN, and I hope this is the key for success, I put 3 under the bed boxes under the bunk bed in each bedroom--one for each child.  Inside, I put the size they will be growing when Elijah grows OUT of something it goes into Canaan's under the bed box (and, thanks to some great and slightly bigger friends, Elijah has a few things to grow into of his own...)--seasonal things, like shorts and short-sleeves go into sized buckets in the storage room, waiting to be sorted through come warmer weather--but I don't like to think about that.

What is your laundry plan?

I hope this overhaul works for me.  I'm afraid this might be one of those areas that will always need tweaking... maybe Elijah can learn to do laundry soon...hmmm, birthdays might not be so bad after all...

P.S. I hate doing white clothes because socks are ridiculous... so if you call me on Thursday, I might be grumpy.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A long awaited birthday

So when we were in the process (doesn't the adoption process always seem to need italics??) we were introduced to our kids with the traditional email with photos, etc and brief sum up of their stats.  "Brother and sister, ages 2 and 1"  But as time went on and we kept going through the process we began to suspect that Canaan was a little older than 2, but there was no record of his birth so we were planning to give him a birthdate in February, which would put him turning 4 right after Judah since they were about the same size and developmental stage.  It would also mean that we got to celebrate Canaan birthday with him, since their homecoming was planned for December.  Then, we got the email that his birthday had to make him 4 right then (and it was already November), so we gave him a birthday in October-- mostly what this meant for us was that we had to prepare Judah that Canaan would be older--by 2 months, but still, older.  What this meant for Canaan was that when we picked him up (on Jared's birthday in December) he came home to celebrate Judah's birthday, then Elijah's the next month, then his cousin's, then a slow succession of everyone else's birthdays over the next months until, at long last, on October 20th his birthday finally arrived.  Oh how he anticipated his day.  He has been excited about it, angry about it, pouty about it, ecstatic about it, confused about it, sad about it, overjoyed, ridiculous, funny...everything he could have been over these last months...and then it arrived!!!

He enjoyed his day.  He reveled in it.  He was so overwhelmed that he would get really quiet and a little embarrassed when people would congratulate him.  He wanted to be the center of attention for almost a year and when it arrived, he didn't know what to do with all the was pretty cute.  I'll give you a lengthy line of pictures to peruse...

One other thing I wanted to say on this topic was the change I've seen in my boy since his birthday.  It's not often that we, as parents, can pin point the exact moment of development in our kids.  Most of the time it's so gradual.  But with Canaan, his birthday released something in him that he was holding on to.  I don't know if there was some reservation because he felt that we didn't love him as much as all of his birthday celebrating siblings...or that he harbored some resentment or anger--he never expressed this...but I wonder just the same because, after his birthday, he has been a different child.  He is much more expressive with his emotions.  When he falls, even just a bump or teeny scratch, he runs to me to tell me and wants me to rub it or kiss it--he never did this before.  There are a lot of other little differences that I won't list, but the gist of it all is that I don't know what was loosed in my boy, but I love it.  It's progress in a very measurable way.  It is showing me that, given time, our children will become convinced that they are ours and we are just takes time...and birthdays...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

grateful for defiance

I've been thinking about this post for a while and just never have the time to get it written out.

That seems to be common for our life these days.  My work piles up on me at lightening speed.  Just when I think I've got a handle on it, I turn around and see that while I've been working, the path behind has cluttered up again!  And it's not that the children don't help, they do.  We teach them to work.  But some weeks it just seems that our time has been filled with all work and no play.  We can't have THAT!  They are awfully messy children as well--they pick up, but they throw things around first.  If anyone has great ideas at how to teach the un-cluttering mindset, please share!  I have no ideas and I'm afraid they all come by it pretty naturally as their mother is scatterbrained and inconsistent and jumps from task to task setting a terrible example.  We have a house FULL of starters and I think Jared is the only finisher among us.  Povero Jared!

Anyway, back to the subject at hand.  These days, when we give the children lists of tasks we hear a chorus of groans before they get to their chores (if you are Judah you collapse into a whiney heap, but thankfully there is only one Judah :-) )  Normal, right?  What is noteworthy about this is that for months after Canaan and Eden came home, they practiced (for the most part) absolute obedience.  Not a word of grumbling, but no smile either.  Just hopped to the task at hand.  Directly and with no discussion.  Like robots.  The other kids would be arguing a little, complaining a lot, basically expressing whatever opinions they had over the situation--not Canaan and Eden.   I noticed the tendency in other things as well.  When showering, they didn't wipe their eyes even if shampoo got in them...ever.  They just took it, without comment or expression. (so I would, of course, wipe their eyes for them) When I would comb out Eden's hair, not a peep.  When they fell, they said nothing.  When Canaan got his first shots he didn't make a sound.  Nothing.  And he had received around six shots.   At first I was tempted to pat him on the back for all his 'toughness' but then I saw his eyes.  He was almost completely disengaged.  He had shut down.  Removed himself.  And it would take him hours to come back to interacting again.  Scary.

As they have progressed, they have loosened up.  The last time Canaan got shots (one teeny little shot), he was thrashing and freaking out so much that it was hard for me to hold him.  Transformation.  Eden whines and cries every time she gets her hair combed out.  Amazing.  Most times, when I ask them to stop what they are doing to pick up or something like that, they let out a groan.  Humorous.  Occasionally Eden has even told me 'no' and has a mini two year old fit.  And I love it all.  I mean, in the moment the groaning is frustrating and opposing what your mother says needs a bit of discipline, but overall,  I love it.  It means their hearts are softer.  It means they trust us so much more.  It means they understand that they can express how their child-hearts feel without fear or loss.

If a bit of defiance means that my child is learning to trust that I will love him in spite of his bad choices, bring it on.   If she needs to whine about her hair just so she can be reminded that I will take care of her even when it hurts, so be it.

And I pray that this is just a precursor...preparing them and softening them for the day when the greatest and best Love makes their hearts complete.  Isn't that a mother's job?  What a blessing it is.

Monday, September 12, 2011

figuring a way over the obstacles...

So, some of you may have noticed a missing post...yes, there was one post after the 'bonding' are NOT crazy...I deleted it.  Sometimes I get up in the morning, and just write--wherever that may take me...and on that particular morning I was feeling really sorry for myself--thus, a blog of self-pity was born and later, after perusing said blog, I was embarrassed at my wonton whining and decided (encouraged by my husband) to delete it.  There's no need to dwell on the difficult, and when I express it, I should find my 'big girl' voice and speak out of my nose less.

On to bigger and better things...
I'm supposed to be doing my Beth Moore study...I have not started it yet.  My brain is not yet that awake. While I love the writings of Mrs. Moore, I do think I need a certain amount of caffeine before I attempt her in the mornings...
My baby is asleep (after a VERY fitful night) for her morning nap, snoring here beside me, and I hear the clinking of duplos in the playroom so, at the moment, I can post--however briefly, while I finish my coffee.

I have little confidence anymore.  My memory can no longer be trusted--my brain has not stretched as much as my family has this past year so I am forever playing catch-up and missing appointments.  It's rather embarrassing...and humbling.   My headaches have not relented and I am a shell of the mother I would like to be....also humbling and rather deflating.  God is shouting at me that this is a season, meant for growth, but 9 times out of 10, I am curled up in a corner whining.  We are getting new carpet in the house...our last-ditch effort to conquer this allergic reaction I seem to be having.  But it won't be here for a few more's been ordered but, well, if you are a home owner, you know how this goes.

We are also in a state of missing Italy.  We miss our life and ministry there.  We miss the food.  We miss our Italian friends.  We miss the way of life.  and I think, deep down, we miss having those kind of problems, instead of the problems we have been having here.  Our major problems there related to the spiritual oppression and darkness all around us, attacking us...those problems seemed big--and they really were--but they seemed WORTH it.  Right now, here, dealing with these paltry problems seems so, well, NOT.  Of what Kingdom value will new carpet really have?  So this morning I'm chewing on this.

I am going to make this new carpet Kingdom-worthy --even if it kills me (figuratively speaking, I hope).

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Adoption is difficult...have I said that before? It is. It is difficult.
As Katie Davis says, "it is the gospel in my living room."

Bonding is one of those things that I never thought about until I was expecting Elijah. During the 9 months I carried him I was plagued by the doubt of a brand new mother...would I be a good mother? Would I mess him up? I read books and I came across this concept of 'bonding'...they said that some people bonded right away with their babies and for some people it took longer. What did THAT mean? Did they mean that I could be taking care of a baby that didn't feel like my own? Was I going to be despondent and depressed after giving birth because I didn't love my baby?? And it seemed like it could be up to fate...a simple dealing of the cards...some people bond, some don't. WHAT?!?!? I freaked out. Then I remembered, I don't believe in fate! God gave me this baby and love comes from GOD...not from nature, not from genetics, not from the comes from God and He will develop it and grow it.

Thankfully, for a brand new mama who was already struggling with confidence, I did not struggle to bond with my baby when he came. I didn't even have to try. It was completely natural and I never thought about bonding again...until my next blessing was put in my arms 2.5 years later and my first thought was, "Who is THAT?"

I had to try a little harder with Iliana. I loved her, without a doubt...but she wasn't as familiar. I held her and babied her and loved on her, just as I had with Elijah and slowly, over the next few weeks, I was hooked. My ah-ha THAT'S what they meant about bonding...

With both of my bonding examples God filled me with love...I didn't get to watch Him do it with Elijah--it was immediate--so fast that I didn't even realize I had been blessed...but with Iliana, I got to watch Him grow my love for my baby girl. He filled me up with love for her so clearly & measurably that I was able to praise Him for it daily.

Bonding is really just a scientific label for loving. While most of the time we use the word love when we are describing how we really is an action. Bonding is the action of loving. When I was bonding with Iliana, I would sing to her, hold her, rock her, dress her, feed her, soothe her, bathe her, talk to her... all loving actions that grew love for her in my heart. It is the same with adoption.

One of my very favorite books in the Bible is 1 John. Long before I was a parent, I loved this scripture. It has helped me-- a rather closed, careful person by nature-- to open up and to love others. God has used 1 John 4 especially in my life to teach me. When Jared and I were first starting to date, God used 1 John 4:18 to help me to open up to Jared when I was scared to be vulnerable. 1 John 4:7-12 specifically spoke to all those questions I had in my heart (and from others) while we were going through the adoption process...How can I love a child that is not my own flesh and blood? Can I love them as much?

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God and whoever loves has been born of God and knows one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us...and so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in Him.

I love love love this. It fills me with peace and gives me confidence. God IS love. The love I have for Elijah is not made less because I love multiplies...and not because I am some endless fount of love, but because God in me gives me more of Himself.

If I practice love on Canaan and Eden, I love them. My heart grows more connected with them. But I have to actively love them. No, it isn't natural...but it is against my selfish, sinful nature to love ANYone more than myself. The God in me trumps my sin-nature. Oh, how I thank Him for this. Instead of limited, selfish love; I have God-sized, supernatural love to give to my children--ALL of my children.

The practice and process of bonding with my 'homegrown' children all took place when they were babies. It's the same with Canaan and Eden. They are in their 'infant' stage in our family and I bond with them the same way I bonded with Iliana.

I dress them.
Even though they can dress themselves, I frequently help them--not because they need my help but because they need to learn to rely on me.

I talk to them.
And with this, I have to make the conscious effort to make eye contact with them. I don't know why, but my natural tendency while keeping myself guarded is to not make eye contact with people. I have to force myself to look at my kiddos in their eyes when I talk to them and to listen to them with my eyes.

I bathe them.
Yep, I'm their mom. I'm responsible for their messes, bodies included.

I hold them and soothe them.
Canaan's tendency when he came home was to soothe himself. I pretty much had to force myself on him at first when he would hurt himself. He didn't want my sympathy--it didn't help him. Slowly, he grew to accept it and now, he needs me more.

I laugh with them.
Very important. We have fun together. Tickles. Wrestle. Chase. Draw. Dance. Sing.
Fun together.

I share my drink with them.
Weird huh? I have never been a parent who shares my food with my kids. They drink out of their own glasses because I think floaties in my drink are gross ...but with Canaan and Eden, for some reason, the sharing of spit warms my heart to them. Kinda like a mark that they are mine. Call me crazy...but it really, really helps.

Bonding. The practice of loving--actively, consciously. And God supports it, enables it, IS it.

Gotta love the real.