Thursday, December 15, 2011


thankfully things have finally slowed down around here. i am now able to refocus and put emphasis on the things that really matter this time of year.
like my birthday. which is tuesday.
just kidding. i kind of forgot it was coming til some of my friends forced me into acknowledging it. the big turning 30 party feels like yesterday, and there is just no fun in turning 31. none at all.
it just means that i'm in my 30's.

i spent my entire 20's changing diapers, changing sizes, puking, nursing, toilet training, sleep training, and cleaning.
and now that i'm in my 30's i've still got a few of those things going on but moving on to things like homework, driving to and from school, kids' life questions, problem solving, their friend issues, etc........
i don't know....maybe 30's will be slightly better. less physically draining. maybe.
i don't really know what i'm talking about. trying to give myself a pep-talk but i still have 3 kids under 5 so.....

moving on.

i wonder how many nights wren spends like this-

shaeya, tekoa, and i had our first mother/daughter singing performance last weekend :)
it was for my dad's company Christmas party. i've been singing at it every year since i was young, and i'm hoping they will eventually end up taking over for me.
they worked really hard to learn all their parts- and they did a really good job.
we were really proud of them :)
growing up waaay too fast!!

neiko had a dr. appointment this week. he is 98% for height and 78% for weight. big boy. i texted his birth mom to fill her in and she said, "oh, yeah- his dad is huge. really big guy with big muscles." :)
should be interesting to see if he ends up way taller than all of us!

and in other news-

we are getting new neighbors!
my brother and his wife and 3 kids are building a house at the beginning of our street!
they just dug this week.

shaeya and i were discussing them building a house the other day-
i said, "it sure takes a long time to build a house, doesn't it?"
and she said, "yes. i know it. i know the life."
so cute. she remembers all too well being at the lot with no toys, bathroom, food, or heat. being dragged from one home to the other. with no daddy around....
hopefully we can ease the pain somehow for my brother.

camera day at gymnastics-

this kid looks adorable in his hat. too bad he won't keep it on for anything!!

and he LOVES this toy. it is the only toy that he plays with- i think because he can't throw it :)

and while we are on this subject-
neiko totally snapped out of his hard phase and is back to his normal sweet self. with a more normal amount of acting out and getting into things.
now i can breathe again- and i have time for all of the kids, cleaning, AND Christmas :)

switching gears here-
i have been thinking the last few days about LOVE. and how hard and complicated it is.
and how much i truly desire to spend myself on behalf of others, but how much i constantly fail at doing it.

things like going the extra mile, giving even when it doesn't seem fair, and loving the unlovable are so foreign to my generation. and i'm afraid it will be even more so for my children's generation.
i want to do what i can to live these out for my Savior and as a legacy for my children, but i can only do it through the help of the Spirit. it is not in me to be able to love without keeping score in some way or another.

but i think about my GOD being born as a human baby, and i think of Him giving His life for me with nothing but my feeble attempts at love in return and it isn't in any way fair. He was and is WHOLLY COMMITTED to this plan and i am struggling to commit on the most basic of levels. and it was and is done for ME. the struggling one.
i hold back love to preserve MY life, but it leaves me empty anyway. i want to give love freely with no record of wrongs so that i can give away my life and live more joyfully.
and i want to be able to do this without "venting" to my husband or friends all of my sinful thoughts and attitudes that are present with me while i give love.

it is not too hard or too much to ask it is part of being sanctified.

my sister-in-law gave me the book "loving the little years."
awesome book- i highly recommend it.
the part that stuck with me the most was about apples.
if i am an apple tree, and my job is to bear fruit, then i bear the fruit without keeping track of where each piece of fruit goes.
an apple tree produces many apples- some of which end up on the ground. but the job is only to produce the fruit and leave the sorting of it to Someone Else.
that means that i use up my time giving- even if i don't see quite how it matters- just for the sake of bearing fruit.

i wipe the table and sweep the floor 3 times a day just to have a clean place for children to gather. i clean and organize the toys even though my kids and neighbors and nieces and nephews will unorganize them tomorrow. i babysit for someone who won't necessarily babysit for me in return. i open my home and my heart to others even if it isn't practical, i "waste" my time sitting on the floor and playing with my kids even when my "to-do" list is 5 miles long.
i give my 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, 70' my husband and kids- loving them and serving them however they need me to.
and i trust that God will organize my chaos and use my fruit in His way and in His time and for His greatest glory.

looking forward to a fun, crazy, exciting, chaotic week next week full of family, friends, birthday celebrations, Christmas programs, Christmas parties, presents, laughter, tears (the good kind), and LOVE. :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

trying to keep my head above water over here :)
i'm about 3 steps behind on christmas. not too bad. trying really hard to take things slow and set small goals for myself everyday.

it's just really hard to add christmas chaos to an already overloaded mom's workload.

my house is disgusting, my van smells like a dirty diaper, i have a pile of christmas cards waiting to be addressed, i have a tree up with no ornaments (probably gonna stay that way), 13 gifts left to buy, about 25 gifts yet to wrap, 3 christmas songs that need practicing before 2 christmas events, and nowhere to hang stockings (oh stockings- add 'buy stocking for neiko' to the ever growing to do list.)
and also a little boy who has turned from 'good neiko' to 'be as bad as i can possibly be neiko.'

not quite sure what brought this on-
maybe an extra christmas busy mom
maybe the new babysitting job (same baby, 2 hours every afternoon)
maybe the after school gymnastics/vaulting change in our routine
maybe dad working more on the house lately
maybe all of the above....

i love him so much, but when he gets in these days long funks he is a FULL TIME JOB. every minute. and unfortunately i have 2 other full time jobs.....

better to just dwell on the progress, right?
and there is progress!
dave and i should have our own shower sometime in the next 2 weeks! YES!!!
my bathtub is officially functional!!
not counting today, no one peed their pants or in their bed for about 4 days!
tekoa and i have a 'cry in the morning, take a nap in the afternoon' system that is working beautifully!!!
ty and shaeya are busy working hard for me and behaving perfectly to earn "christmas points" that actually have no bearing on the quantity or quality of their gifts. they think it does and that's all that matters....(do not make me feel guilty about this, ok?)
and finally.... ADOPTION PROGRESS!!!!!
over the weekend dave and i signed on with a lawyer in phoenix who is now working with neiko's birth mom to get her caught up with arizona laws and ready for termination of rights.
the next step for us is to travel with neiko to phoenix for a court hearing. this will be to terminate mom's rights and to grant us full custody. we have to stay there until paperwork goes through (maybe a week or so??) and then we come back and adopt from illinois. we are told we should be able to adopt him maybe 6-8 weeks after we get back.
so here we go......
please keep us in your prayers!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

things i'm thankful for this year-

this crazy guy...:)

and these 4 of course-
and i was especially thankful on thanksgiving that they sat at the table and colored for half of the day-
it was wonderful....

and i've never been so thankful for or excited about mirrors :)
dave and i can walk around with a little more confidence these days just knowing there's nothing too startling going on with our outsides....

and PATIENCE. thankful for patience on mornings like this-
neiko's handywork.
every now and then he likes to empty his entire sippy cup of milk onto his high chair tray and then splash in it.

well, nothing new is going on as far as the adoption.
as the new year gets closer i am feeling frustrated that we aren't any closer to adoption then we were this summer.
our deadline is april 15th and then our guardianship expires.
i know it is in God's hands, and i am trusting in His plan, but i'm ready for some ACTION. for some steps forward or something.

at least neiko and i are each taking our own small steps forward.

i am reading a very informative and super helpful book on reactive attachment disorder. it is changing the way i parent neiko.
and i joined a group of adoptive moms that meet monthly- i went last week for the first time and it was awesome.
so amazing to be in a room full of women who can relate, and can give advice and support. we spent a good part of our time together just praying for our adopted/foster children, their birth moms, and our biological children.
and praising our Father for His plans for His children.

and then neiko-
he is finally developing- at 16 months- the stranger anxiety that he should have had at 8 months.
i am secretly loving it.
i think it is a great sign, and knowing he needs dave and i to feel safe is just wonderfully normal.

and he is 16 months. 16.
i guess i've been calling him 14 months for 2 months now.
so we skipped 15 months entirely and he is now 16. :)

i totally know what i'm doing, ok?
i may not get ages right or even names right these days. i may introduce myself to you twice, and i may have a booger on my shoulder or a big splotch of something on my chest. i might ask you the same question twice in one conversation and i might be waaaaay too honest about my feelings at any given moment.
but i have things COMPLETELY under control. :)

yeah i'm totally kidding about the control in case you didn't pick up on that.....

but i do crawl in bed every night- after i've thrown out a stuffed horse or two, and brushed out the sawdust- with thankfulness.
knowing that i am blessed beyond anything i ever dreamed of. and that with the chaos comes more opportunity for growth and refinement.

i must have needed A LOT of growth and refinement.......

Monday, November 21, 2011

the trick or treating crew-
same crew every year but we keep adding to it.....
we should really think about tapering off at some point.
but how boring would that be ;)

wren's latest phase is the "i'm not tired" phase.
see how NOT tired she is??

she tells me all day how not tired she is and then the first thing she says when she wakes up is a drowsy and slurred, "im not tired..."

mr. trouble-

some days you just have to have a "skip lunch and eat popcorn " day :)

i took on a baby-sitting job for a week a couple of weeks ago. i hadn't mentioned anything to my kids ahead of time, so one day tyden and shaeya came home from school and i was holding a baby.
well, tyden didn't even notice. and at one point shaeya walked by me, leaned over to look at her, and said, "nice baby." and then walked away.
sooo funny to me that it wasn't strange to them :)

this next picture was taken during our 2 & 1/2 hour visit to the dentist. i cannot think of a worse way to spend the day....
our only saving grace was that neiko fell asleep in his stroller (while trying to tell me how not tired HE was by screaming at the top of his lungs) and slept for about 45 min.
when it was my turn in the chair i had a kid beside me in the stroller, one child lying on my stomach, and one leaning over to watch.
at least we came away with no cavities.

and then there's the vaulting. shaeya's dreams have finally come true, and she gets to be on a horse vaulting team. she is LOVING it.
in fact, they all are :)

after her first day she told me, "i was a little nervous, mom. that horse is SO BIG. i mean, i was focused, but i was nervous." :)
she goes to practices 2 days a week which is a pretty big sacrifice for me but she is such a good kid and i'm happy to do this for her.
if only i could keep neiko out of trouble while we are there, and keep wren from asking every 2 seconds if it is her turn yet.

looking forward to our 5 day long thanksgiving :)
we have SO MUCH to be thankful for this year!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

have to start by thanking EVERYONE who prayed for us this weekend.
seriously, thank you so much.

i was soooo nervous all day sunday (i think i ate half of the bowl of the kids' halloween candy that afternoon) about giving the testimony, but the moment we stepped inside the church i felt perfectly peaceful.
i was able to stand in front of a crowd of mostly strangers and re-tell our adoption story. we laughed and cried together as i re-visited all that God had done to basically drop a baby into our laps. PRAISE HIM. it was so good to remember.
and He was so good to help me through something i did not think i could do.
thanks so much for your encouragement and prayers!!

and one other amazing thing-
my sister mentioned to me on friday that her church was hosting a post-adoption seminar on saturday.
i have definitely been feeling the need for more knowledge and practical ideas for discipline and affection when it comes to raising neiko.
so i rearranged my saturday and found a sitter (thanks katie!!) so that i could go.

and i am so glad i did.

it was a wonderful day of encouragement and support- and i learned so much.
i had the opportunity to talk with one of the speakers afterwards and he had so much wisdom to pass on. such a blessing. and now i get to be connected with a group of adoptive moms who meet monthly. wonderful.

still waiting on an address from birth mom. i think i've asked at least 5 times. i don't want to annoy her but we really want to get things going!!!!!!

while we are on the subject of neiko, he definitely says, "don't throw!" right after he throws something :) so funny. and he is just starting to try to say the other kids' names.
and he is playing better with them. a little less destructive, getting into things a little less, throwing things a little less, and playing with toys a little better.
i'm learning that disruptions to our routine just really throw him off. which is unfortunate because i am TERRIBLE with routine. and with 5 kids it is hard to keep what little routine we have.
and now with the holidays coming up.........
we invited our goddaughter and her mother to come stay with us for thanksgiving, and we are really excited to have them.
and then after that, we are going to do our best at keeping the christmas chaos to a minimum.
i think i say that every year, but this year i really mean it ;)

.....secretly hoping that dave, neiko, and i will be in arizona around christmas. or shortly after!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

yes, blogging is most definitely taking a back seat. i feel like there is so much going on and i'm struggling to organize my life right now.

we had an AWESOME time in gulf shores last week. the weather was AMAZING, and we spent most of our time just hanging around on the beach. swimming, fishing (okay, i was not in on any of the fishing), beach volleyball (which i was most definitely in on!!), watching the kids play, and just plain lying around.
the lying around was thanks to the 2 babysitters we brought along with us :)
dave and i decided we are spoiled forever by those 2 babysitters- it's gonna be really hard to ever vacation without them after this!!
and with 10 kids in our house and 18 kids total in our group we put them to good use :)

the ladies :)

the babies :)

for some reason tekoa would entertain herself for hours doing this-

in other news-
we are FINALLY going to start up the adoption process again. birth mom moved for the second time- this time to arizona, and she tells us she will be staying put for awhile. so now we settle up with the lawyer in LA, and then start from scratch with another in AZ.
i am finally beginning to understand why people have such big celebrations when adoption is finalized!! you better believe we will have one too!!!

birth mom sounded really depressed last night. please pray that i can have the right words to show her Jesus' love. she is always on my mind and in my prayers. i actually feel a strong love for her and i want to somehow show her that. i pray her redemption is a part of this crazy plan....

also, while we're on this subject-
the church that hosted the adoption and orphan care event that dave and i attended right before we found out about neiko has asked us back to come and share our adoption story.
it is this sunday, november 6th.
i am soooo not good at formal speaking and my husband does not stand before crowds so we need a few more of your prayers for this.
please pray that God will use our testimony to open hearts and homes to more of His children who need them.

and then here at home-
i am LOVING having dave around again!
work on the house has pretty much stopped and we are readjusting to family life. it is WONDERFUL.
so great to feel like a team again and to have someone to share the stories from my day with. and so nice also to have someone to share my workload with for awhile.
oh sure, we are going to need things like mirrors, handles on our drawers, and our own shower eventually- and it would be nice to not have a big pile of trim on our living room, but more than anything we both needed a BREAK.
time to rest and to focus for awhile on our marriage and our children.

and finally, a few of those bloopers i'm sure you all have been missing....

neiko has discovered the joy of pulling diapers out of the garbage and opening them. never had a kid do THAT before....
he LOVES having dave around and has finally started calling him daddy :) :) :)
completely melts my heart. i think more than anything else in this life.

wren is as independent as ever. today at lunch she told me, "here's my carrot, mom, just so ya know."
and wren is dave's biggest fan. but don't call him DAVE.
"he's not dave, he's daddy!"

tekoa finally got kicked out of the bunk bed. shaeya just couldn't take the head banging any longer. so we switched tekoa and wren's beds, and wren is now in the bunk bed. the only reason why we didn't start out that way was because i didn't want to have to change the full size bedding every time wren wet the bed. but it turns out that tekoa still wets the bed just as much as wren, so....

one morning before we left on our vacation i walked out into the main room to find neiko sitting on the kitchen counter top. he had pulled out the chair by the computer, climbed over the keyboard and up onto the counter. he had stopped by the fish tank to play in it for awhile, then moved on the the fruit bowl. and took a bite out of each apple in the bowl.
we were running a bit late (big surprise) so i cleaned up the mess and then handed each kid an apple on our way out the door.
wren was still eating her apple when we got to the gym. i put her in one arm and neiko in the other (getting harder to do! they are growing!!) and we made our way inside. right as we stepped into the foyer wren choked on a piece of her apple and then puked EVERYWHERE. me, her, and the carpeted foyer.
fun morning.

saturday was another fun morning. neiko pulled a pile of used toilet paper out of the toilet and carried it around the house. and after we got that cleaned up he went downstairs and found the wax ring from the toilet we used to have down there during construction. apparently that orange waxy stuff tastes good.....

sorry for the long post! nothing like catching everything up at once :)
please don't forget to pray for sunday!!!!!!