Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day by Day

I know this blog started out because of the simple fact that we wanted to share our adoption journey.  That was easy at first as we went through the process, step by step.  Even when we returned home, there were many obvious markers that I could easily share.  But, as the days and weeks turned into months, it's been harder to know when and what to share.
I guess that's a good thing.  It's part of the natural progression of this process.  Abe has become less of the "new kid" and is simply "one of us."  Yet, there are still those moments when the reality of how he came to us and the magnitude of the change he brought are so very obvious.
People still ask me on a regular basis.  "How is it going with Abe?"  The bottom line is, it is still a very day by day existence.  We love him, very much.  We are proud to be his parents.  We are still fascinated by his beautiful eyes, his precious smile, his zest for life, and his strong sense of justice.  But, we are also very aware of the depth of his need and his sin nature (which strongly resembles our own, and that of our other 4 children.)  The bottom line is, parenting a toddler is hard.  Parenting a toddler who is language delayed and screams frequently may be a little bit harder.  Parenting a toddler who is language delayed, screams frequently, and struggles with obvious insecurity is downright challenging.  I said all the time during the adoption process that, "Adoption is not for the faint of heart."  Well, I can tell you now that I am in the parenting part of the process, "Adoption is NOT for the faint of heart."  
However, adoption IS for the called.  The ones who can't sleep at night with the thought that there is a child who needs someone to call mommy.  A child who doesn't know that somewhere in the world there is a lady who would love to read them 7 board books in a row and make every animal sound on every page.  A child who doesn't know that brothers and sisters fervently pray for them.  That's where we were, God brought us to the point where we could not have lived with ourselves had we not stepped out in faith and made our lives a little less orderly and a little more demanding.  
And the joys, oh the joys that we have reaped because of our decision to be obedient.  Almost every day Abe and his siblings show me the love of God and my need for a saviour.  They show me how to extend grace and how to love richly.  We see little glimpses of progress that are so valuable to us.  Like this photo.  

This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it was to me.  You see, since Abe has come home, he has slowly accepted the fact that he is one of 5.  He was okay with Abby from the start, but the others- not so much.  Over time, he has become more and more loving toward them- but he still stuggles a lot with Lily.  Which is hard for her.  She's only 5 and she loves him so much.  She so wants to love him and squeeze him and fight him for a turn in the Cozy Coupe. You know how it is.  So, I am always delighted when I catch them having a moment like this, where they are enjoying time together, even if they are apple thieves!

This one delights me because, well, Abe is sitting alone.  He is entertaining himself !  When Ryan noticed it the other night, he said, "Look right there, that's progress." and then he ran for the camera.  Six months ago, I didn't think he would ever self-play.

Or, what about this one.  The other night, I was working on closet purging in the boys room and Abe needed to go to bed.  Abby offered to take him to her room to see if he would lay with her.  I told her she was welcome to try, but I knew it wouldn't work.  We have never had success with him sleeping outside of a crib and he's just too darn ornery.  A 1/2 hour later, I went to check on them, and this is what I found:

So, day by day, we're making it.  And day by day, it's getting a little easier.  And according to God's word, today is the only day I need to worry about.  So, I guess we'll take it, day by day!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mystery solved!

Lizzy's Samantha party was lots of fun. I had purchased a Samantha mystery kit for less than $5 last year after Christmas, not sure what I would do with it. It wasn't too hard to convince Lizzy that it would be a good fit for her birthday party. The kit came with the invitations and a script for a mystery game. Each girl came dressed as their assigned character and they did a great job of acting out the script. Grandma was invited to perform the part of Gertrude the maid and the girls were mesmerized by her outfit. It was truly a hit! Here a some pictures of the big day:

Lizzy, intently playing the part of Samantha.
Lily looks on as the big girls act away
The tea party spread
Here's the Birthday girl wearing the same dress that Grandma made for Abby's "Happy Birthday Samantha" party about 5 years ago.  Thank heaven for Grandma and her sewing talents!
Lizzy and one of her best friends, Alexa (or should I say Nellie and Samantha)

Lizzy and "Gertrude" who was kind enough to answer the door in character.
Gertrude and all the girls!

An experiment in Petit Fours

This month, Lizzy turned 9 and we hosted an American Girl party based on a Samantha mystery kit. Samantha is the doll whose books are set at the beginning of the 20th century. So, we decided to have an afternoon tea type of menu. Instead of creating a big cake, I decided that I would experiment with making my own Petit Fours. It was crazy! I baked the cake, iced the cake with buttercream, made a gazillion little gumpaste flowers (with a bunch of my favorite helpers), then we had to cut the petit fours and cover them with pourable fondant. It was a long process.

Let me just say, that was probably a one time experiment. They were very time consuming and the end product was not really any more impressive than a cute round cake would have been. However, the girls seemed delighted with the dainty little cakes and that made it better. Here are some photos of our Petit Four making extravaganza.

Number 3

One of the most stressful things for me about homeschooling is teaching children to read.  Encouraging kids to love books and good literature is a cinch, but tackling the mechanics of reading is another story altogether.  Isaac and I have worked hard over the last couple of years to get him to the point of being a "reader."  We have fought for every initial consonant and short vowel, and it's truly been an effort for him.  
But, it has paid off, because Isaac is truly a reader now!  He is reading everything.  It seems like overnight he just exploded.  After 18 months of consistent phonics, he went from simple sentences to tackling anything he wants to read so quickly.  
The funny thing is, he is now a reading fool!  He is reading every sign, label, and cereal box he sees.  As he said tonight, he just can't see a word and not read it.  That's music to my ears since it was so hard fought.  He is delighted with his skill, as evidenced by these pictures:

Here is Isaac with our well-worn Beginner's Bible.  This has been the first book that all of my children have read in 2nd grade.  They read the "entire" Bible to me before we dive into our fiction books for the year.  He has loved reading the familiar stories for himself!

I am delighted (and relieved) to have Isaac reading fluently. Three down, two to go!

Farewell to Summer

To say that our summer was busy would be a major understatement.  It wasn't supposed to be, but it was.  Somehow, my visions of lounging by the pool didn't materialize.  But, that's okay.  We had a great summer leading a variety of projects at church and using any spare time to invest in our own kiddos.  
We had thought that we might try to make a trip to KY to visit Ryan's family, but it didn't happen.  So, Labor Day weekend we met Ryan's parents for a couple of days.  We stayed at Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville and it was beautiful.  For Ryan and I, it was like a walk down memory lane.  We had spent 4 summers serving on summer staff at the conference center, so we had a great time walking the familiar sidewalks and seeing all of the wonderful renovations they've made over the last 10 years.  We truly have a piece of our hearts there.
On Labor Day, we decided to go hiking at Chimney Rock.  We realized that even though we had been there many times, our children had not.  It was a great use of our day.  The weather was terrific, the views were phenomenal, and we all had fun.  
We did a lot of hiking and by the time we were done, we were famished.  So, we headed back to Black Mountain for some yummy My Father's Pizza followed by Kilwin's ice cream.  All in all, it was a great weekend with Nana and Pap!

Pap and the boys

Most of the crew on Pulpit Rock
Abe loved the backpack!
The whole family at the top of Chimney Rock

Nana and Pap enjoyed the views.

Our last hiking destination was the trail leading to the bottom of Hickory Nut Falls.  Abe loved the water and had no fear!

Long time, No Blog

Well, I've been tossing the idea around about resigning from the blog world, because I've been such a lousy blogger these last few months.  But, I can't stand the thought of it for several reasons.  One of these reasons would be that I so wanna be a scrapbooker.  You know, one of those women who have every birthday perfectly chronicled and tucked neatly away in beautiful annual albums.  BUT, then there is the reality that my children insist on wearing clothes, which requires me to find time to do laundry.  They also like to eat a minimum of three times each day.  Bills have to be paid, groceries have to be purchased, 11 years olds need to learn how to divide fractions, get the picture.  And so, the scrapbook pages wait and the blog has become a quicker and easier way to chronicle our life.  
Another reason I don't want to throw in the towel is because there are a lot of special people who love my children and get great joy out of seeing their photos.  These are the people whom I wish we could see more often, but they're willing to settle for our electronic updates in between visits.  Some of them have begun to harass me about my blog neglect (you know who you are!)
And the true reason why I've decided to dig in and catch up instead of disappearing is truly selfish.  I have found that blogging is like therapy for me.  It is a great outlet for me to process life and it's a great way for me to reflect on God's goodness to my family.  There have been many times when I have been discouraged and I have gone back and re-read previous posts and been reminded of the journey we've traveled to get to this spot.
So, I've decided that I am going to take this weekend and try to catch up on all the things I've wanted to record over the last 6 weeks.  Then, hopefully I can maintain from there.  Our busiest season at church has just ended, and I'm hopeful that our world is going to slow down.  It has to, or I really am running away.  But don't worry, if I do, I'll be sure to blog about it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Okay, I know I'm past due for a post, and I promise I will soon.  But in the meantime, enjoy this link to a friend's blog.  The Prosser's were college friends of ours and they just brought home a daughter from Ethiopia.   The video is precious!  Congratulations Holly and Jeff!