Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wait...what?

Eek, I'm apparently not as good at blogging as I thought! I get into a funk of thinking, why should I even say anything and then remember, uhm, I can because, well I can. HA! Wow, now that that has been said I will continue! Everyone asks, "So where are you in your adoption? Any baby news?" I'm answering that question...no, no news...we haven't heard anything...and we are just WAITING.

I have been hesitant to say anything negative because the last thing I want to do is give adoption a negative twist. It couldn't be further from my heart, but what I realized that this, the WAITING IS APART OF ADOPTION and guess what? IT IS HARD!!!! It is probably the hardest part of the entire process. At the beginning of our adoption journey I had many people tell me that adoption is great, but the waiting part really sucks. I naively thought, oh, it can't be that hard...right? I mean, waiting is just waiting...think about something else. *turning to myself then and firmly responding as myself NOW* SMACK SMACK!!!!!! I was told, "...enjoy the gathering and paperwork part because you will be doing something..." That was sound, reliable advice...(right Monique? LOL) why in the heck did I not listen more closely!? Jeeeeeeeepers!? I'm always a 'lets get to the next step...yesterday' kind of person. If there's something to be done, lets get it done for crying out loud. For those of you in the 'waiting portion' of your adoption journey...sit tight...IT SUCKS. Its hard, it seems unbearable at times, you will get SICK of people telling you "God's timing is perfect." UGH! I hate that saying. I KNOW that His timing is perfect, that hasn't been a question ever for me...but if you are in the WAITING part it is NOT a helpful little diddy that will help those of us who are waiting endure the waiting. When people tell me this it is abit of a sting...like God's timing is perfect and you are not in it. I know it was not intended to be this at all...but it doesn't make it any easier.

Let me give you a quick rundown of why the waiting is hard and why I feel that its alright to share this with you...well actually I'll say why I can share this now. We have many friends and acquaintances going through adoption and EVERY one of them have said that this is the hardest part and I think its only fair that if you are where I am you can know that you are NOT alone. This part is like waiting for a phone call that feels like it'll never come (if you are being chosen by a birth mom or you are waiting for a referral). You KNOW that God is sovereign, that He loves you, and that He has ever aspect of your adoption journey laid out...buuut you don't get to know what it is nor the timeline...so you can just...WAIT. As much as I didn't really enjoy being pregnant because of different complications or the general discomfort...at least I had alittle bit of a timeline I could count on. I KNEW that I wouldn't be pregnant beyond a certain day...with waiting I don't have any idea at all. I also knew that I had the ability to leave a room if someone was smoking, or I could choose to eat certain foods to benefit my pregnancy...I wasn't in a stressful environment or an abusive relationship. I knew how my family was going to react, I knew that I was loved and that my unborn child was loved; I wanted and planned for this baby. I had absolutes that were tangible. But not with adoption...I have no absolutes except one: THE LORD SPECIFICALLY CALLED US HERE AND NOW.

This waiting process has been a huge matter of looking back to the Lord when I'm feeling like, wait, did we miss something? Are you sure we were supposed to adopt? And obviously judging by what God's provided there isn't a shadow of a doubt, but believe me, my heart still questions. I think because we live in such a instant gratification society the idea of waiting for something that we want 'right now' is basically unfathomable. You mean...I can't have it RIGHT NOW!? Why, no...no you cannot. It is difficult because you are literally stuck in one spot of being unable to change your current situation. I can cry, I can throw a fit, I can talk, I can do it all (and believe me I HAVE!!!), but ultimately the Lord needs to get in my face (like I do with my 4 yr old son and make him look me in the eye because we are nose to nose) and tells me, "Robyn, relax. You need to just be still. Don't you think I've got it under control?" Well yes, Lord I do...but why can't I know alittle bit more? He still hasn't really answered that question yet, but I know what is true...I don't really need to know because I can't handle it yet...I'm not there...I haven't arrived in my heart at a place where He knows I can store what is going to happen in a safe and healthy manner. Ugh! ;) To be perfect huh? In the midst of all my venting here I also know one more absolute...not because the Lord has specifically laid it out for me Himself, but through the lives of families who are on the other side of this waiting part...the families and dearest of friends who come along side me and wrap me in the biggest, most loving hugs and remind me...ITS SO WORTH IT...all of this heartache of not knowing, of waiting, of what you don't see...ITS SO WORTH IT ALL.

To master this frustrating impatience and really believing that the Lord hasn't forgotten...He's got it all in the works and He's got to get my duckies in a row...but its not all about me...its about our precious birth mom and the child she carries...He's getting her duckies in a row...its about the process that she's going through and the heartache that she's enduring that will produce the gold and refined silver of who she is through the choices she's having to make. Because when we stop focusing on ourselves its really about what we are doing to further God's kingdom right? Good grief, when I put it into perspective like that (its not about me!? UGh...again with remembering that) and remembering that this woman NEEDS my love and prayers more than anything...and its not just for her either...when I'm praying for her and this beloved child(ren) I AM doing something. I AM changing my situation because my focus is on God's perfect timing and allowing Him to do what needs to be done. Jeepers, why the struggle?  Hey, I always get here eventually and somehow I can never seem to go about it in the easy way. WHERES MY EASY BUTTON!? Anyway I wanted to share another blog with you that says it all...I may not agree with everything that she says here, but alot of it rings true for both domestic and international adoption...because lets face it...being human and wanting it all  right now kinda go hand in hand. ;) I hope you found abit of relief knowing you aren't the only one struggling through a waiting process and laugh (or cry) through this other blog.

How to Be The Village


by Jen Hatmaker on Wednesday November 02, 2011
194 comments


Sometimes being ever-so-slightly in the public eye is rough. With a mouth and discernment problem like mine, you can imagine. I basically offer my life on the altar of criticism daily, then douse the sacrifice with plenty of fuel to make disparagement a lay-up.

For instance, Brandon and I attended a Halloween party last weekend with the theme “Heroes and Super villains.” Our friends came in such costumes as Captain America and the Joker and Kim Possible. They were all very polished and adorable. We came as washed-up, possibly strung out Superman and Supergirl complete with ripped fishnets, smeared makeup, and pistol tattoo drawn with Sharpie. We may or may not have had unlit cigarettes dangling from the corners of our mouths.

These choices are often met with disapproval from the watching masses, as you might well guess. I know you wish I would only dress up as Little Bo Peep or Mary Mother of Jesus, but Brandon and I are very, very silly and immature, and I’ve been trying to tell you people this for some time.

But usually I am grateful for the connection to the greater world, if only through social media and the miracle of emails (plus embarrassing transparency). For example, just a few days ago, I received this email:

Our good friends just returned from Ethiopia last night with their two little boys. Ok, they've had their "airport" moment and we were right there with them. What are some things we can do now to support them in the "real life" journey without overstepping our boundaries? Thank you so much for your transparency and honesty. Everyone can benefit when you share from your heart.

I was so moved by this email. Having benefited from a community that practically smothered us with support throughout our adoption journey, I am so grateful for all the other good friends out there, loving their people and asking how to help. Since reading this email, I’ve been marinating on her question, and I’ve decided to write this Field Guide to Supporting Adoptive Families. (And it will be brief because I will try to remember that this is a blog and not a manuscript and the rules of blogging include succinctness, so that is exactly how I’ll proceed today, except for the exact opposite of all that.)

Let’s break this down into two categories:

Supporting Families Before the Airport

Your friends are adopting. They’re in the middle of dossiers and home studies, and most of them are somewhere in the middle of Waiting Purgatory. Please let me explain something about WP: It sucks in every way. Oh sure, we try to make it sound better than it feels by using phrases like “We’re trusting in God’s plan” and “God is refining me” and “Sovereignty trumps my feelings” and crazy bidness like that. But we are crying and aching and getting angry and going bonkers when you’re not watching. It’s hard. It hurts. It feels like an eternity even though you can see that it is not. It is harder for us to see that, because many of us have pictures on our refrigerators of these beautiful darlings stuck in an orphanage somewhere while we’re bogged down in bureaucracy and delays.

How can you help? By not saying or doing these things:

1. “God’s timing is perfect!” (Could also insert: “This is all God’s plan!” “God is in charge!”) As exactly true as this may be, when you say it to a waiting parent, we want to scratch your eyebrows off and make you eat them with a spoon. Any trite answer that minimizes the struggle is as welcomed as a sack of dirty diapers. You are voicing something we probably already believe while not acknowledging that we are hurting and that somewhere a child is going to bed without a mother again. Please never say this again. Thank you.

2. “Are you going to have your own kids?” (Also in this category: “You’ll probably get pregnant the minute your adoption clears!” “Since this is so hard, why don’t you just try to have your own kids?” “Well, at least you have your own kids.”) The subtle message here is: You can always have legitimate biological kids if this thing tanks. It places adoption in the Back-up Plan Category, where it does not belong for us. When we flew to Ethiopia with our first travel group from our agency, out of 8 couples, we were the only parents with biological kids. The other 7 couples chose adoption first. Several of them were on birth control. Adoption counts as real parenting, and if you believe stuff Jesus said, it might even be closer to the heart of God than regular old procreation. (Not to mention the couples that grieved through infertility already. So when you say, “Are you going to have your own kids?” to a woman who tried for eight years, then don’t be surprised if she pulls your beating heart out like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.)

3. For those of you in Christian community, it is extremely frustrating to hear: “Don’t give up on God!” or “Don’t lose faith!” It implies that we are one nanosecond away from tossing our entire belief system in the compost pile because we are acting sad or discouraged. It’s condescending and misses the crux of our emotions. I can assure you, at no point in our story did we think about kicking Jesus to the curb, but we still get to cry tears and feel our feelings, folks. Jesus did. And I’m pretty sure he went to heaven when he died.

4. We’re happy to field your questions about becoming a transracial family or adopting a child of another race, but please don’t use this moment to trot out your bigotry. (Cluelessness is a different thing, and we try to shrug that off. Like when someone asked about our Ethiopian kids, “Will they be black?” Aw, sweet little dum-dum.) The most hurtful thing we heard during our wait was from a black pastor who said, “Whatever you do, don’t change their last name to Hatmaker, because they are NOT Hatmakers. They’ll never be Hatmakers. They are African.” What the??? I wonder if he’d launch the same grenade if we adopted white kids from Russia? If you’d like to know what we’re learning about raising children of another race or ask respectful, legitimate questions, by all means, do so. We care about this and take it seriously, and we realize we will traverse racial landmines with our family. You don’t need to point out that we are adopting black kids and we are, in fact, white. We’ve actually already thought of that.

5. Saying nothing is the opposite bad. I realize with blogs like this one, you can get skittish on how to talk to a crazed adopting Mama without getting under her paper-thin skin or inadvertently offending her. I get it. (We try hard not to act so hypersensitive. Just imagine that we are paper-pregnant with similar hormones surging through our bodies making us cry at Subaru commercials just like the 7-month preggo sitting next to us. And look at all this weight we’ve gained. See?) But acting like we’re not adopting or struggling or waiting or hoping or grieving is not helpful either. If I was pregnant with a baby in my belly, and no one ever asked how I was feeling or how much longer or is his nursery ready or can we plan a shower, I would have to audition new friend candidates immediately.

Here’s what we would love to hear Before the Airport:

1. Just kind, normal words of encouragement. Not the kind that assume we are one breath away from atheism. Not the kind that attempt to minimize the difficulties and tidy it all up with catchphrases. We don’t actually need for you to fix our wait. We just want you to be our friend and acknowledge that the process is hard and you care about us while we’re hurting. That is GOLD. I was once having lunch with my friend Lynde when AWAA called with more bad news about Ben’s case, and I laid my head down on the table in the middle of Galaxy CafĂ© and bawled. Having no idea what to do with such a hot mess, she just cried with me. Thank you for being perfect that day, Lynde.

2. Your questions are welcomed! We don’t mind telling you about the court system in Ethiopia or the in-country requirements in Nicaragua or the rules of the foster system. We’re glad to talk about adoption, and we’re thankful you care. I assure you we didn’t enter adoption lightly, so sharing details of this HUGE PIECE OF OUR LIVES is cathartic. Plus, we want you to know more because we’re all secretly hoping you’ll adopt later. (This is not true.) (Yes it is.)

3. When you say you’re praying for us and our waiting children, and you actually really are, not only does that soothe our troubled souls, but according to Scripture, it activates the heavens. So pray on, dear friends. Pray on. That is always the right thing to say. And please actually do it. We need people to stand in the gap for us when we are too tired and discouraged to keep praying the same words another day.

4. If you can, please become telepathic to determine which days we want to talk about adoption and which days we’d rather you just show up on our doorstep with fresh figs from the Farmer’s Market (thanks, Katie) or kidnap us away in the middle of the day to go see Bridesmaids. Sometimes we need you to make us laugh and remember what it feels like to be carefree for a few hours. If you’re not sure which day we’re having, just pre-buy movie tickets and show up with the figs, and when we answer the door, hold them all up and ask, “Would you like to talk for an hour uninterrupted about waiting for a court date?” We’ll respond to whichever one fits.

Supporting Families After the Airport

You went to the airport. The baby came down the escalator to cheers and balloons. The long adoption journey is over and your friends are home with their new baby / toddler / twins / siblings / teenager. Everyone is happy. Maybe Fox News even came out and filmed the big moment and “your friend” babbled like an idiot and didn’t say one constructive word about adoption and also she looked really sweaty during her interview. (Really? That happened to me too. Weird.)

How can you help? By not saying or doing these things:

1. I mean this nicely, but don’t come over for awhile. Most of us are going to hole up in our homes with our little tribe and attempt to create a stable routine without a lot of moving parts. This is not because we hate you; it’s because we are trying to establish the concept of “home” with our newbies, and lots of strangers coming and going makes them super nervous and unsure, especially strangers who are talking crazy language to them and trying to touch their hair.

2. Please do not touch, hug, kiss, or use physical affection with our kids for a few months. We absolutely know your intentions are good, but attachment is super tricky with abandoned kids, and they have had many caregivers, so when multiple adults (including extended family) continue to touch and hold them in their new environment, they become confused about who to bond with. This actually delays healthy attachment egregiously. It also teaches them that any adult or stranger can touch them without their permission, and believe me, many adoptive families are working HARD to undo the damage already done by this position. Thank you so much for respecting these physical boundaries.

3. For the next few months, do not assume the transition is easy. For 95% of us, it so is not. And this isn’t because our family is dysfunctional or our kids are lemons, but because this phase is so very hard on everyone. I can’t tell you how difficult it was to constantly hear: “You must be so happy!” and “Is life just so awesome now that they’re here??” and “Your family seems just perfect now!” I wanted that to be true so deeply, but I had no idea how to tell you that our home was actually a Trauma Center. (I did this in a passive aggressive way by writing
this blog, which was more like “An Open Letter to Everyone Who Knows Us and Keeps Asking Us How Happy We Are.”) Starting with the right posture with your friends – this is hard right now – will totally help you become a safe friend to confide in / break down in front of / draw strength from.

4. Do not act shocked if we tell you how hard the early stages are. Do not assume adoption was a mistake. Do not worry we have ruined our lives. Do not talk behind our backs about how terribly we’re doing and how you’re worried that we are suicidal. Do not ask thinly veiled questions implying that we are obviously doing something very, very wrong. Do not say things like, “I was so afraid it was going to be like this” or “Our other friends didn’t seem to have these issues at all.” Just let us struggle. Be our friends in the mess of it. We’ll get better.

5. If we’ve adopted older kids, please do not ask them if they “love America so much” or are “so happy to live in Texas.” It’s this simple: adoption is born from horrible loss. In an ideal world, there would be no adoption, because our children would be with their birth families, the way God intended. I’ll not win any points here, but I bristle when people say, “Our adopted child was chosen for us by God before the beginning of time.” No he wasn’t. He was destined for his birth family. God did not create these kids to belong to us. He didn’t decide that they should be born into poverty or disease or abandonment or abuse and despair aaaaaaaall so they could finally make it into our homes, where God intended them to be. No. We are a very distant Plan B. Children are meant for their birth families, same as my biological kids were meant for mine. Adoption is one possible answer to a very real tragedy… after it has already happened, not before as the impetus for abandonment. There is genuine grief and sorrow when your biological family is disrupted by death and poverty, and our kids have endured all this and more. So when you ask my 8-year-old if he is thrilled to be in Texas, please understand that he is not. He misses his country, his language, his food, his family. Our kids came to us in the throes of grief, as well they should. Please don’t make them smile and lie to you about how happy they are to be here.

6. Please do not disappear. If I thought the waiting stage was hard, it does not even hold the barest candle to what comes after the airport. Not. The. Barest. Candle. Never have I felt so isolated and petrified. Never have I been so overwhelmed and exhausted. We need you after the airport way more than we ever needed you before. I know you’re scared of us, what with our dirty hair and wild eyes and mystery children we’re keeping behind closed doors so they don’t freak out more than they already have, but please find ways to stick around. Call. Email. Check in. Post on our Facebook walls. Send us funny cards. Keep this behavior up for longer than six days.

Here’s what we would love to hear or experience After the Airport:

1. Cook for your friends. Put together a meal calendar and recruit every person who even remotely cares about them. We didn’t cook dinners for one solid month, and folks, that may have single handedly saved my sanity. There simply are not words to describe how exhausting and overwhelming those first few weeks are, not to mention the lovely jetlag everyone came home with. And if your friends adopted domestically right up the street, this is all still true, minus the jetlag.

2. If we have them, offer to take our biological kids for an adventure or sleepover. Please believe me: their lives just got WHACKED OUT, and they need a break, but their parents can’t give them one because they are 1.) cleaning up pee and poop all day, 2.) holding screaming children, 3.) spending all their time at doctors’ offices, and 4.) falling asleep in their clothes at 8:15pm. Plus, they are in lockdown mode with the recently adopted, trying to shield them from the trauma that is Walmart.

3. Thank you for getting excited with us over our little victories. I realize it sounds like a very small deal when we tell you our kindergartener is now staying in the same room as the dog, but if you could’ve seen the epic level of freakoutedness this dog caused her for three weeks, you would understand that this is really something. When you encourage us over our incremental progress, it helps. You remind us that we ARE moving forward and these little moments are worth celebrating. If we come to you spazzing out, please remind us where we were a month ago. Force us to acknowledge their gains. Be a cheerleader for the healing process.

4. Come over one night after our kids are asleep and sit with us on our porch. Let me tell you: we are all lonely in those early weeks. We are home, home, home, home, home. Good-bye, date nights. Good-bye, GNO’s. Good-bye, spontaneous anything. Good-bye, church. Good-bye, big public outings. Good-bye, community group. Good-bye, nightlife. So please bring some community to our doorstep. Bring friendship back into our lives. Bring adult conversation and laughter. And bring an expensive bottle of wine.

5. If the shoe fits, tell adopting families how their story is affecting yours. If God has moved in you over the course of our adoption, whether before the airport or after, if you’ve made a change or a decision, if somewhere deep inside a fire was lit, tell us, because it is spiritual water on dry souls. There is nothing more encouraging than finding out God is using our families for greater kingdom work, beautiful things we would never know or see. We gather the holy moments in our hands every day, praying for eyes to see God’s presence, his purposes realized in our story. When you put more holy moments in our hands to meditate on, we are drawn deeper into the Jesus who led us here.

Here’s one last thing: As you watch us struggle and celebrate and cry and flail, we also want you to know that adoption is beautiful, and a thousand times we’ve looked at each other and said, “What if we would’ve said no?” God invited us into something monumental and lovely, and we would’ve missed endless moments of glory had we walked away. We need you during these difficult months of waiting and transitioning, but we also hope you see that we serve a faithful God who heals and actually sets the lonely in families, just like He said He would. And even through the tears and tantrums (ours), we look at our children and marvel that God counted us worthy to raise them. We are humbled. We’ve been gifted with a very holy task, and when you help us rise to the occasion, you have an inheritance in their story; your name will be counted in their legacy.

Because that day you brought us pulled pork tacos was the exact day I needed to skip dinner prep and hold my son on the couch for an hour, talking about Africa and beginning to bind up his emotional wounds. When you kidnapped me for two hours and took me to breakfast, I was at the very, very, absolute end that morning, but I came home renewed, able to greet my children after school with fresh love and patience. When you loved on my big kids and offered them sanctuary for a night, you kept the family rhythm in sync at the end of a hard week.

Thank you for being the village. You are so important.

Adoptive friends, what can you add? What has been helpful or hurtful? How has your community helped you raise your children? What do friends and family need to hear?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Wait...I thought it was only Fall??


Rob going out at 130am to try to save some of our branches

this is only a few inches of snow, but layered on ICE

As many heard around the States, Northern Colorado was POUNDED with heavy, WET snow.
We were right in the middle of that. I never really thought about how proud of my trees I was until we laid in bed and listened to the sound of branches cracking and falling to the ground. I was cringing at the view I'd have in the morning. Rob went out and tried to dust off the trees, but to no avail...here is the whole scenario as it began raining at 630pm and began snowing right around midnight...

looking out to the backyard

this is the Elm out our front porch...still standing tall








We had been told that we'd get somewhere around 4-8 inches by morning...well...that was true, we did get 4-8...in fact we got 13 by morning...

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Gus is NOT excited about this...he forgets that he is a dog.
As you can see...my poor cottonwoods are not only UNHAPPY...they are suddenly NAKED. The trampoline isn't too happy either since its buried right in the middle of another Elm and 2 cottonwoods. This snow was so heavy in fact, that it left an entire town north of us without power for 48 hours.
RIDICULOUS. We sit in a very interesting part of the country though. Either Denver gets POUNDED with snow and we get NOTHING...or we get hit like this and get it all!


 The kids LOVE this kind of weather...I guess I don't mind it so much as long as its not muddy...
 
However...we'll move to the front and you can see the digression of my poor Elm out front...
I'm fairly certain my Elm will live...its looking abit sad right now, but in the spring it should branch out. We'll just have to see I suppose.
Rob's car was blocked in so here is the temporary fix...with a machete.
As I write this blog post Rob is working on his 4th trip to drop off the fallen branches. Its been a mess. And to top it all off on this Halloweenie morning, we are expected to get another 'few' inches on Wednesday...
I'm beginning to wonder...will I have ANY trees in the spring?? ;) Here's hoping!!!!



Thursday, October 20, 2011

Goldylocks and ...A WHOLE LOTTA HAIR!!!

I AM ONE PROUD MAMA.

My girls both have LONG BEAUTIFUL naturally curly hair. It's a lot of hair to manage. Last week while going to Walmart my husband casually suggested we cut the girls' hair because of a recent wailing and gnashing of teeth situation that happened. I cannot handle frizzy wild hair, so up into a ponytail it goes. Isannah's hair has become proactive in it's idea of becoming more like dreadlocks. This doesn't work for me at all. I don't do dreadlocks and I don't do screaming when we have to comb the enormous snags out! Well unfortunately for my husband, the girls heard and began bouncing around since some of their friends had cut their hair short too. Rob and I took this into account because it'd mean WAY less work for me and it'd mean less product for hair and more time for me to get things done since showers usually take 30 minutes due to hair care. GAG ME. Extra time!? YES PLEASE!

I recently began reading Beth Moore's So Long, Insecurity (you've been a bad friend to us) with my Bible Study ladies. I thought at first, I think I have a few insecurities I'd like to get rid of...but upon reading the first couple of chapters I realize, HOLY CRAP...I HAVE A LOT!!! Anyway, I highly recommend it...its been amazing. I also found that a lot of my identity has been in my hair. In fact, a few other people have found identity in MY HAIR. Why? I'm not sure...but there it is...black and white...I guess since it's mine, I'll go ahead and do what I want, thank you very much. I realized too that I was asking myself, WHY would part of my identity and security be MY HAIR!? Its hair...ITS DEAD...And so I began to investigate abit more...how can I raise my girls to avoid some of the insecurities I've felt dealing with my hair? Well like this one...God says that in our abundance that we should give...because its better to give than to receive. Suddenly I jumped on my computer (okay not on it but in front of it because I try to just hit it when I'm mad since jumping causes alot more damage.) and began researching different places that make wigs and finding one that is geared to help children. I want my girls to see that they are doing something beautiful...they are giving something that they can personally say, "That was mine, and I gave it because I WANTED to." They are furthering God's Kingdom by 'giving to the least of these..." meaning those who need hair the most. I found that on the Locks of Love website that there were a lot of pictures of children giving hair and there were pictures of recipients. My girls have never really heard about cancer and the effects it has by its treatment methods. They read about how children lost their hair from going through chemotherapy and radiation. My heart broke as I read the information, but it hit me the hardest when my girls said that they 'had a lot of hair that they could give to a little girl with cancer.'

That's when I brought it up to Rob and since he wasn't too keen on the idea..."I don't want our girls to have any identity in their hair...nor the length of their hair." I even had to ask myself, do I have anxiety over cutting their hair because I actually have placed identity in their hair? Not in their ACTUAL hair...but the beauty of it? The compliments we receive for it? WOW, ouch...that's a crummy question and I found that shamefully I had to admit, yes...I did find pride in their hair...how silly! I have my own hair!?!?!?!?! They get to choose what they want to do with theirs and if giving it to a child who has cancer and has no hair....WHY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH WOULD I EVER STAND IN THE WAY and lets go deeper...SHOULDN'T I BE THE FIRST ONE TO APPLAUD AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO GIVE IN THEIR ABUNDANCE!? They are being absolutely selfless...and they were so excited to do this. I couldn't believe how mature they were being and how brave they were for giving so much and being 100% ready to help another child.
 These are the moments that, as a mother, I'm SO HONORED to witness!!!

    I'll let you peek into our Hair Whackin good time!

Our hairdresser is Christy. She was SO excited about being apart of this day for the girls. Thankfully she dealt with me as the crazy picture-taking (IN THE WAY) mother!


                                                                 Here's Isannah!

And Natty                                                                      Experiencing the whole hair salon!!!
Here we GO!!!!!!! Natty's first!!!!
SO LONG!!!















AND the BIG moment has COME!!!
Natty cut off 10 inches!!!!










THAT IS MY PRECIOUS DAUGHTER!!!! I'M SO PROUD OF THIS GIRL!!!!

I love how short it is!!!! She was giggling the whole time! Here's Christy cutting it into abit of a bob.
ALL DONE!!! See how grown up she looks!?!?
And now for Isannah!!!

Isannah donated 11 inches!!!!! I'M SO PROUD OF MY DAUGHTER!!!!


ISN'T SHE BEAUTIFUL!?!?!?
And now for styling!
I LOVE THIS!!!!
HERE THEY ARE!!!!
21 inches DONATED!!!!!
So there you have it!!! My girls LOVE their new hair cuts...I LOVE their haircuts! (It was a 10 minute shower for both!!!! THAT'S AWESOME!)
And they have experienced how blessed it is to give...than to receive.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A few things I just might miss...

I was talking with my sister in law, Christine, the other day about all the kids (Ryan and Christine have 3 boys that stair-step our kids in age) and thinking how BIG each of my children have gotten. You remember when your kid was born you used to count the week of the age of the baby...until they get to be about 3 months old and then you start counting their age by the month...until about 2 years old. Why is that? It seems so weird to me, but yet, I still did it. And now as a mom of 3 (soon to be 4), I can't seem to recall certain dates correctly unless I go by the age of the child that was with me or the age of the youngest. Like one of our trips to Canada...we didn't have Duncan (in fact I had JUST gotten pregnant with him) so I can recall what we did on that particular trip because of Isannah's age. I donno, it just seems funny to gauge time in this manner. All that to say we were coming home from Buffalo Wild Wings last night and listening to my children talk made me realize how fast time has gone and how much I miss how the girls used to say words or have conversations with me. Duncan is still in the HILARIOUS stage of how he says things and WHAT he says. Sadly I didn't blog when my girls were younger so I don't have as many funny things that they used to say and because they were so close and I was so busy I regretfully did not write enough of them down. However there are a few that seem to stick out. I decided that I needed, mostly for me, to 'write down' those things...those particular things that I don't want to forget and that I'm finding I really do miss.

I miss...

... the way that Isannah used to say her alphabet..."A, B, C....L-eh-men-oh-peee...v, double me, X, Y, Zeeee!!!

... how Natty aptly named Isannah 'Nana' the moment she saw her

... how chubby Isannah's cheeks were and her little piggy tails

... how Natty used to 'nurse' her baby when I would nurse Isannah

... the way the girls would smell of the Johnson and Johnson's baby lotion after being bathed

... how the girls begged me to sing them 'Jesus Loves Me' EVERY night and their sweet little voices singing along with me

... the way Natty would say 'yes Sir!'

Upon writing the things that I miss about the girls I went in search (a frantic search since they were NOT where I thought they were going to be!) for their baby books to that I could see if there was anything that I did happen to write down...I didn't find much...except that as I opened Natty's overflowing baby book(typical first child right? ugh, I had guilt pulling out Isannah's because it was nowhere near as filled...) I was immersed in memories. I read through my note of Nataleigh's pregnancy...I was 22 when I got pregnant with her and 23 when I had her. HOLY CRAP I WAS SO YOUNG!!!! I look at most college kids and think, oh my gosh...does you're mother know you are here? Are you old enough to be driving?? I realize I'm only 30, but good Lord, they all look SO young!? I got pregnant with Isannah when Natty was only 4 months old (...just an FYI: Breast feeding IS NOT a viable birth control method) and Isannah came 4 weeks EARLY bringing them to a magic 11 months and 3 weeks apart: IRISH TWINS. I was 24 when I had Isannah...I wouldn't change a thing, but wow, I seriously have a hard time remembering things!!!

 Anyway...I realized what those irritating people had said, about enjoying my kids while they are young and cherish the time when they are little...blah blah blah... *chewing on glass to admit* but jeepers...THEY WERE RIGHT!? As I read a note I wrote to Natty about how excited I was that she was growing in my belly...I started crying! I often forget in the hassles and chaos of life that I really DO need to STOP and  ENJOY my children! It is going by so fast!! Where along the way did I forget that these precious babies are my GIFTS from God Himself? Wow, hello 2x4 to the face!? Sometimes I envy the college aged friends we have and I think, good grief...if I had all that time what would I do!? But thinking about it...WHAT did I do? I can't even remember life before children...I remember thinking I can't wait to get to this next stage in life...and not truly enjoying or embracing the season of life that God placed me in. Like now, swamped in the middle of starting a new school year, enduring an adoption process, preschool runs every other day, a crazy cop schedule, and life in general, it is a daily reminder that my children are my gift...not just my JOB, but my PRIVILEGE.

Like those years I let go by not truly enjoying my college life season, I am suddenly faced with the reality that I'm still doing it today! Looking forward to the 'next thing' instead of breathing in the wonderful scents (& some not so wonderful but definitely INTERESTING) of my life season NOW!!
How blessed I am!!!! There are days that I think, okay, that's it...I give up...God, what were YOU THINKING!? But now that my youngest so far is 4 1/2 and I'm no longer having to keep wipes, diapers, or change of clothes for each kid in the car...and all of them in booster seats (THANK YOU GOD), I'm beginning to think, wow, they are suddenly not as dependent on me and it hasn't been as bad as I sometimes tend to feel that it is. But now looking back through baby pictures and baby books...I'm very aware that I'll be stopping to enjoy my children abit more...even just before a time out when I need to love them the most.

The things I just might miss the most...

... how Duncan says Mother ~ 'Mudur', Girls ~ 'Gills', Thirsty ~ 'Fursty'

... the way my children will play together and laugh while they jump around the trampoline

... the way that my children have hurt feelings if one of them is 'mad' at them (which usually means one is scowling at the other)

... how Duncan says thingy ~ 'singee'

... the way my children still ask me to sing 'Jesus Loves Me' to them every night before tucking them into sleep

... how Isannah LOVES to play dress up and wear the princess shoes everywhere and loves to accessorize everything

... how my son seeks me out in the morning to tell me 'Good Morning Mama'

... the way that my eldest child is watching me while I do chores and then goes and does them on her own simply because she wants to do it herself

... how my children's level of extreme delight comes from the mere mention of going to Sonic and then to the park with Daddy

... that my husband coming home is a burst of loud screams of joy and excitement (I promise...I only listen, I don't join in...LOL)

... when Yellow will stop being 'Lellow' and Actually will stop being 'Ashulie' and Diarrhea will stop being 'Diary' (hey, its hilarious every time it happens)~ Duncan

... when it won't be a 'fun night' to just sit together and watch America's Funniest Home Videos

... when the streamers will come off the girls bikes

... when the girls won't be sharing clothes

... when I won't be with my children every single day

... when Mommy won't be able to 'kiss it' and make the pain go away

I didn't realize until today that my children growing up would actually be abit painful. While going through baby books and pages of infant milestones I asked my dear friend, "Does it get any easier?"
"Absolutely." she said..."Don't blink or they'll be 18!!! I suppose we all mourn their youth in some ways..."  Oh great...however she did warn me..."Wait until your girls are 12 and 13!! You'll be praying for growth!" Yeah...I suppose when I get there I'll be reminding myself that its just a season

...and seasons ALWAYS change!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ready...Set....Home School!!!

Good grief...where has the summer gone? Truly, it kinda feels like since becoming a parent of school aged children the summer seems much shorter and I remember last school year thinking not only the exact same thing, but recalling that when I was in school, the school year was September(starting AFTER Labor day) through May. Jeepers, now kids don't get out until June and start in the middle of August!? Well, so in light of the new school year that we began on August 25th, I thought I'd share our experience in home schooling.

I grew up going to public schools and was under the assumption that everyone else did  too. It wasn't until I was in 6th grade did I ever hear the words 'home school.' My cousins were home schooled but I didn't really know that until much much later. When I did learn about home schooling I was told that people who were socially inept or 'sheltered' were home schooled. They were more like social out casts. Now hearing that made me feel sorry for my friend who came to school in 7th grade. She didn't seem socially inadequate or weird...or behind in any way, but I knew then that I never wanted to be home schooled. I think because of this grossly misunderstood way of schooling it has gotten a lot of BAD press. I would like to set the record straight...Home schooling is NOT just  for socially inept,'sheltered,' or social outcasts. In fact may I just say LOUD AND CLEAR: Home schoolers are actually known to be some of the most intelligent, socially well-rounded people you will ever meet. (Side note: did you know that Stanford University actually looks at all HOME SCHOOL APPLICANTS FIRST??? Yeah...stick that in your back pocket! I felt justification in this little tidbit as a home school parent.)  Does that mean that there aren't groups of home schoolers who aren't socially well-rounded? Absolutely not, but that's like assuming that everyone who is public schooled is a genius and never had a care in the world. There are people who take home schooling to the extreme and separate themselves from society. But as a general rule of thumb, as a home schooling parent I don't want to shelter my kids from living life. Quite the opposite, I want them to be involved in sports and have friends and yes, experience a classroom that isn't at home. And much like the home schooling families that we live life with, we are very much out in society and involved in activities outside the home. We just exercise our rights as parents to have more authority over the environment in which our kids learn and the material they learn in a much different manner.

It actually makes me laugh now when people think that by home schooling my kids I'm somehow restricting or 'robbing' my kids of social interaction! HA! Really? Why, because I'm not 'socializing' them with kids their own age who are disrespectful, rude, foul-mouthed, and bratty? My kids have developed a few of those characteristics all on their own, they don't need to be socialized to help them along there. My children are nowhere near perfect, but I feel that by ignoring bad behavior because they are 'expressing themselves' is creating socialized MONSTERS! Good grief, we, by nature, are self centered beings...if I allow this idea that my kids are the center of the world to set in their little minds, what kind of parent am I? A self centered child becomes a self centered teen...which often leads to a self centered adult. I'm doing my very best to teach them that their actions say so much more than they realize. God calls us to disciple our kids and teach them the 'way they should go.' I don't want my kids to merely be nice, I want them to have hearts that really want to be kind to others. This is an on-going lesson that as an adult I'M STILL LEARNING...but it has to start somewhere. I have also experienced how MEAN kids are in general. I'm appalled how some kids act on the playground. I'm also astounded how parents do not pay attention to their kids or let this horrendous behavior go. Its these kids who are usually the worst behaved because they know that they can get away with it or they know that bad behavior will get the attention they want, even if its negative. So why would I want my kids 'socialized' with these kids? Yeah, I know that they'll be around those people and you can't hide from the world...true, but I want to help my children develop their character in a way that a healthy self confidence is promoted and not survival of the fittest (or the best dressed, the prettiest, the most athletic, the coolest shoes, or the most silly bands.)

I feel sorry for the teachers of public schools really. These men and women are somehow not only put into a 'teacher' role, but most times a 'parent' as well. That's NOT fair. And they are put in a classroom of 18-22 kids and expected to have each one on track, reading, computing, achieving everything that a test says they should. Wow, I have 2 girls, one in 1st grade and one in 2nd grade. Both learn in COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ways. That's only 2 kids...how can one person be expected to reach 22 kids? Plus the teacher only has maybe an hour for each subject...there's barely enough time for them to spend more than 3 solid minutes with each child...if that were the case in a perfect setting. Most likely there are a few kids that learn differently and need extra time so time isn't equally dispersed. Jeepers, I struggle with teaching my own kids and finding what ways they learn the best...and we, as a society, have the nerve to think that our teachers (who don't get paid nearly enough for their time) had better be teaching our kids exactly the way we want...but here's the kicker, we aren't even willing to put in 10 minutes of our own time for their homework. Somehow its gotten mixed up in the shuffle of living life to the extreme, filling every second of the day with something, that these teachers aren't the parents and shouldn't be expected to raise our kids. What really makes me sad is that most of these teachers actually know our kids better than we do simply because they spend more time with our kids than we do. I understand that not everyone can home school, don't want to home school, or have to work 3 jobs just to make ends meet. I'm not judging that in any way, I'm simply explaining my point of view (right wrong or indifferent) why we chose to home school our kids and I'm grateful for the opportunity that God's given me to home school my kids, but as a general observation of how we as a society look at education is irritating.

SO! Enough of my soap box.

I was completely against home schooling, but I joined a remarkable group of women who showed me that I was in the dark about what home schooling is. I thought to home school my kids meant I was up at 6 am and had to teach my kids everything all day long or I was a failure. How ridiculous. If I could go back and smack myself I would. Thankfully I was surrounded by grace, love, and complete support and encouragement of this group of ladies and a few other families while I dove into my first year of schooling. I often joke with a dear friend of mine that she encouraged me to go to 'the dark side' when I chose to home school. ;) I was blessed to have one of my best friends also start home schooling right along side our family. What a journey. Its wonderful to know that you aren't alone in your frustrations teaching your own kids! Its important to remember that home schooling doesn't mean that you have to have a teaching degree. I went to college to become a teacher; ironically I went in declared as an education major! HA!!!! Hilarious. I remember thinking my sophomore year, I hate school...why on earth would I want to be a teacher? Wow, talk about a 2x4 to the head!!! LOL anyway. When I was at our Thursday night church group one of my Bible study friends said, "Wait, you are just starting out right?"  "Well yeah, Natty is in kindergarten..." Christy just laughed..."You know, its only ABC's and 123 stuff...you don't need to stress so much. You aren't teaching high school math or science. And you aren't teaching 8 hours a day...and don't forget, in Colorado, kindergarten doesn't even count. Relax...you have to have fun!"
PHEW!!!! THAT LITERALLY TOOK THE HUGE LOAD OFF MY SHOULDERS that I had put there. So with that, I have a few things I must say.

1: Home schooling is NOT that hard. (Clarification here...it takes time, energy, and patience, but its not mentally difficult)

2: We school from 10am-3pm (I am NOT a morning person, so naturally I'm not going to add stress to my kids school experience by trying to be someone I'm absolutely not because of some pre-conceived notion that I 'have' to do something some way.) Sometimes we have to do abit longer, but not usually.

3: We DON'T home school EVERYDAY. (We will take Monday or Tuesday off depending on what Rob's schedule is)

4: There is FREEDOM in home schooling.

Let me stop there and explain this. I found so much freedom in home schooling. But I think my freedom came in a solid curriculum that doesn't make me guess or worry about what I have to do 'next.'

Our good friends went with us to a home school curriculum fair. HOLY OVERWHELMING. I'd say that if you are considering home schooling and are going to go to one of these alone and unaware of the kind of curriculum that you will be checking out...GRAB A FRIEND and do research QUICK. We all went and I think I was like a deer in the headlights...I may have even stopped breathing. Good grief!? I had been researching curriculum and so with first hand knowledge from my trusted friend and ALOT of prayer, I KNEW what curriculum I was choosing. If I hadn't known, it would have been disastrous. Choosing curriculum is very personal. And there is ALOT to choose from. Each kid learns differently and you have to find what works for you and your kids.

We use Accelerated Christian Education (A.C.E).  I L*O*V*E this curriculum. I found that while I was teaching Natty her ABC's and 123s I needed an outline of what to do. I didn't like just 'winging' it. I used workbooks from Walmart/Sam's and a book called Alpha Phonics with both of my girls while they did Kindergarten. They are fantastic readers and enjoy reading so much~ I HIGHLY recommend starting out with this book for beginner readers. But I still didn't like not having a 'curriculum' I would build on and I felt scattered or worried I wasn't 'doing enough.' So when we finally ordered A.C.E. it was such a relief~ no more scattered or worry.

 Natty is a visual kinesthetic learner. She reads about it and then needs to do it with her hands to remember. Isannah is a mix of all three and truthfully I can't really figure her style out yet! LOL I think she is an audio learner because unless she hears me tell her to read the directions or what the directions are she won't do them...she may be an audio visual. I also think that not everyone is one specific type and that we all have characteristics of all types, but trying to figure out how they learn best has been when I've made the most progress.

Sorry, back to ACE. Each student uses a PACE. its basically like a workbook that they work through in each subject. Each subject has 12 PACEs and the great part is that they can GO AT THEIR OWN PACE! We do have to get work done, but the great part about home school is that there ISN'T HOMEWORK! Depending on how many pages the girls have in each PACE (1-30 or 1-39) we will try to finish a PACE in 2 weeks. I LOVE this. I don't want to guess if they are learning or feel like they aren't getting enough. Each PACE has 'check ups' and has a 'self test' and then a final test before going on to the next PACE in that subject. So I never have to wonder if they aren't grasping something. I have to initial work being completed and they have to read things to me throughout the PACE. I also grade them as they go according to the lesson. So again, I'm quick to see if they've understood something. I absolutely NEED this kind of structure as a teacher. I also feel like my kids need the direction and tangible boundaries and goals for each lesson and school day. We don't always get everything done, but again, that's alright too.

Time and hours? Well, in the State of Colorado there are different home schooling regulations. Kindergarten doesn't count. I still counted my hours anyway just to be in the habit. Our rules state that your student gets 4 hours per day for 180 days. I've been told 163 days and 172 days. I stick with 180. So that puts me at 720 hours that my kids need in their school year. I will also tell you that schooling for '4' hours doesn't necessarily mean four SOLID hours. I have the girls do between 3-6 pages in each PACE. Natty will do 6 pages in 25 minutes sometimes. Well, that 25 minutes constitutes as one hour in that subject. So I count it in her hour log...ONE HOUR! BAM! Sweet! How is this alright you ask? Okay lets look at a regular classroom. There are students that will race through their subject before the other students. You remember, what did your teacher allow you to do? You could sit quietly and color, you could lay your head on your desk or you could do...whatever. Point is, you didn't get to leave your class because you were done with your work and it counted as the full hour. Same with home school...but more fun because we get done earlier! Plus my girls get more one on one time with me as their teacher than any kid gets in ANY class they take unless they require a tutor.

My girls take all the core subjects. Science, Social Studies, English, and Word Building(kinda like phonics). We chose a different Math curriculum, Math U See. This curriculum is AWESOME. Its very basic and builds on itself. Natty did NOT get the ACE math. We went half a year in constant BATTLE. Oh my gosh, no one should EVER endure a subject. The blessing of home school~ YOU CAN CHANGE!!! I would have changed or done Math U See from the very get go, I just didn't know about it. Now my girls both LOVE math. No more tears, no more struggle, no more angry words. Its wonderful. I highly recommend it. Our kids have chores. Guess what? Those also count. Some chores are only counted as 30 minutes for us, but cooking, dishes, cleaning, laundry, feeding the dog, dog-poop duty, picking up toys...all of these count for hours. Any time we go to a church function it gets counted as school hours. Why? Religion. Going to the zoo? Awesome! Hours for school! YAY field trip!! We started reading The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingals Wilder. We only read a chapter a night, but it took us about 30 minutes to read and it counted as the full hour. We do gymnastics and that counts as PE as well as play dates to the park or jumping on the trampoline out back.

There are some public schools and charter schools that will offer classes for home schooling families. We used Greeley Options last year and loved it, but chose to try the Frontier Academy's homeschooling program on Fridays this year. My girls LOVE it and I know that the kids they are in class with come from homes that have the same goals and morals in mind as I'm trying to instill in my own family. I LOVE having this opportunity! Plus it allows my girls the opportunity to have a classroom experience and 'socialize' with kids their ages. I want them to have their own friends and develop skills on how to deal with getting along with kids they aren't necessarily friends with and learning in a fun environment.

See? Home schooling IS NOT as hard as you may have thought. It doesn't consume EVERYTHING. It can be fun and a great experience for you and your kids. I don't think everyone should home school and I do agree that there are plenty of kids that turn out fantastic who go through public school. It has been a great opportunity for our family. Not every day is great (believe me, there have been days were I seriously question why God called us to obey and home school our kids), and there are times when mommy gets a time out for attitude, but the benefit that I have as a teacher is deciding that we don't have to do school on those bad days. Its just not worth fighting my kids tooth and nail every step. Obviously we have to change attitudes and get into our 'school mode', but school should be fun and at my kids ages I want them to relate 'fun' with school...not drudgery. Having the ability to change the dynamic of how we do school is something I use frequently. And I have the privilege of deciding how we go about our schooling day! We may not home school our kids through their entire schooling years, but we will continue on as we are until God calls us elsewhere. However, even with those really crummy days, I'm one blessed mommy to say that I taught my children how to read and I've seen those precious moments of their eyes lighting up when they discover that they can read a word, all by themselves.

When I became a mommy I never saw myself here.

But now that I am HERE...I wouldn't change it. My dearest and closest friends will tell you that I have sworn otherwise, but I believe they know and understand my heart...its hard to be selfless and excruciating to take on this monumental task of educating our kids...
You know who you are...and you've taught me something pretty important...

IT IS SO WORTH IT.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Our Spaghetti Dinner

First I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to Michelle Silva
 for putting this on for Rob and I. You cannot possibly understand onor comprehend how much this act of generosity meant to us.
It was an experience I'm very grateful to have. One thing is for sure...God ALWAYS takes care of us and He never lets us down. Another BIG THANK YOU to our friends who came and ate with us. Your contributions to our adoption through this event touched Rob and I's hearts and as you saw...literally brought me to tears!!! I'm SO blessed by your friendship! I am thankful to have people surround us with love and encouragement...May God bless EACH of you GREATLY.

Olympians!


For the last few years Nataleigh and Isannah have been in gymanstics. We ADORE their coach, Hillery. The girls have loved every class and I have seen them bloom and grow. Its such an amazing group of people and each week I'm encouraged through laughter and some tears. Both girls are feeling accomplishment and pride.

Not to mention that we have made several wonderful friend through this class. This last week was about being Olympians. Each little girl got a medal! THEY LOVED IT.

The parents got to be the "judges"...workin our "jazz hands" for a full and PERFECT 10...well...some of us did...not all!
(HAHAHA I'm working on some of the 'other' judges...)










Thank you Hillery, we are so blessed by you!!!