Wednesday, December 31, 2008

May 2009 bless your socks off!!!

Happy New Year! I hope that 2009 God blesses you like no other year in your life!
My prayer for you is that in 2009 you give all that you are and all that you have to God and see what He does with your life. May the life you live honor and glorify the one who made you so beautiful.
In Revelations 20:12-13 is says that we are all moving toward a day in which we will be judged: "The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books". One day you and I will stand before the Lord and He will look at how we lived our lives- what we did with the time that He blessed us with. My challenge for you is to really take a good look at your life~ none of us are perfect, and God is not asking us to be. He knows we are not already. But what He wants is your obedience, your willingness, your heart. He wants you to desire Him above all else. In a world full of so many opportunities it is easy to find ourselves headed down the wrong path and not even know it. The road may appear like the right one- exciting, fun, successful, even safe- but is it the road that God wants you on? Is your road- your life’s journey, worth something to God or is it simply all about you- your wants and your needs? Often times in the past I was held back by my own desires of how I wanted my life to look, believing I really had some say… If the Lords call didn’t ‘look’ the way I had pictured it, if it involved more giving, more pain, more sacrifice then I had envisioned- I bolted- headed down a different path- hoping down that road I would find what I was looking for. And you know what- the funny thing was- God let me. He let me wonder, let me continue to look-always searching- but never being completely fulfilled. He let me remain lost, remain empty-all the while giving me the time I needed to grown until I was finally able to say “Yes Lord- have your way” and mean it. My life today is nothing at all how I once would have chosen it to look-but you know what- it’s the way God planned it to be- and I am so very, very blessed. He knew all along what I couldn't see it.

I was reading a blog post the other day and came across this comment a reader posted. I happen to know the person to left this comment and I couldn’t help but be blown away by her words. She gave me permission to post it on my blog. (Thanks Lisa- you rock!) I hope it touches your heart like they did mine.

The blogger had asked this question (which of course caught my attention). She asked: Are there some people who are cut out to have a lot of kids and some who aren't? And here is what Lisa H. wrote:

"I'll jump in on the question regarding being cut out to have a large family. I think the question is really "How is God wanting to use my life?" I don't think that God has called us all to have large families, but I think He has called us all to have a place where we get our hands dirty and our lives messy in meeting the needs of hurting people. It might be ministry to single moms, prisoners, the poor, the homeless, widows, inner city kids, immigrants, the sick, etc..., but SOMEWHERE God has a place for each of us to serve that will complicate our lives, and our homes, and our personal space and time....AND that place will be a place where we know a special kind of fulfillment and satisfaction and where we are used to have eternal impact. For the lucky ones of us, it's the call to parent children who need families! :o)Yes, that call has involved giving up personal time and space, living in a home that rarely reflects the ideal I have in my mind, and feeling a little over-stimulated, even, at times, from the comings and goings of our crew. But I KNOW that this is the call of God on my life and our family, and even in my worst moments, I know I'd never choose to miss the precious children God has brought to our family for a little more personal time or a more magazine worthy home.
Last summer I had the afternoon "off" as my husband cared for our children. I went out to lunch and sat in the sun at an outdoor cafe while I sipped tea and read a magazine. After a while, I thought, "This is great! I needed this!....But this is nothing to build a life around!" and I was ready to go home, and be back in the game with my family.
We are all unique creations and we have different needs for space, quiet, order, etc. We need to respect these limits and live within them. But we need to be sure that we're not resisting God's desire to stretch us and push us out of our comfort zones as He enlarges our hearts to love the world through us. It's a hard, painful process but the end result is JOY, for us and for those we're called to love... I think if we are faithful to ask God His intentions and to be seeking His wisdom with open hearts, then He will show us which situation applies to us. My .02 on a great question!"

Lisa H. Mom to 7

Can’t wait to see what 2009 brings for you!!! Love, Amy

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Parenting all kinds of kids

Found this link off of another blog (thanks Laura!) and I absolutely LOVED the parenting tips on here! Check it out!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Learning how to just be a kid

One thing that I noticed right away with our new kiddo's- especially the older 2, was that they really didn't know how to 'play'. You know, just let loose, let your imagination run wild kind of play that only kids can do. What I realized along with that, was that they didn't really know how to be normal kids. Having spent most of their little lives in survival mode I don't think play was something that they had a lot of time to do. From the stories they have shared so far- I have come to realize they had little time to just enjoy the simple things in life. I remember when our 4 oldest kids were growing up I loved watching them play "make believe". I remember once Travis and Keegan stripped down to their undies, rolled in the mud, camouflaged themselves and played army men in the back yard for hours. I remember watching Addisyn dress like a princess and put on an elaborate pretend tea party with her baby dolls that would have put Cinderella to shame. But for our new kids- life didn't offer those care free days... if they played make believe- it was to make believe that none of what had actually just happened to them really had.


These kids are survivors.

We have spent a lot of time lately trying to convince them that they are safe now and also to teach them how to just 'be a kid'. So today my sweet Kallan took them out in the backyard, in the sunshine, and they built Indian Tepees out of the new blankets their aunt Jenny gave them. They set up the fire pit for an Indian feast, collected their berries, painted their faces and played for hours.
No crying.
No pouting.
No fears.
Just simple, delightful, child's play...
And there was nothing more precious to see.

"Because you are children, God has sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts". -Galatians 4:6

Moments we cherish

My awesome sister Jenny and her beautiful family came to visit us from Illinois and got to meet our new kids- Jayla, Lainey, Kai and Jace. We treasure every minute we get to spend with them. Her kids are amazing, sweet and beautiful inside and out. We also got to celebrate Mario's 10th birthday while they were here. We ate pizza and cake and swam at the pool to celebrate his special day. What a neat bond that our adopted kids share knowing that their cousin was adopted too!
Our visits always seem way too short and go by way too quickly but we are so thankful to have for precious family
in our lives. We love you guys!!

Hair 101

Okay, I know you experienced hair people are probably doubled over laughing- but I tried my hardest and at least it seemed to please Lainey and Jayla! :0) My awesome new friend Angie sent me this really great hair product from Carol's Daughter called "Hair Milk" and it's really helping get the girls hair back into shape. They have so many broken pieces that it's really hard to braid- so I had to do flat twist instead of corn rows. I also added some beads to their bangs which was a new thing for me too.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Guess what's sitting out in our driveway???

And who would have thought I would be so excited about driving a 15 passenger van?? But I am!! No more climbing over 3 rows of seats to buckle in seven kids for me baby! Thank you God for answering our prayer!! (and thank you to all of you who were helping us search!) We found this awesome Chevy Express that was gently used locally on Craigslist. The people selling it were awesome and didn't have a need for it anymore. We got a GREAT deal too! It was so fun driving to church today all together in one vehicle and let me tell you-there were some cute faces smiling back at me in that rearview mirror today!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas to all!!

There is no ideal Christmas; only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

And this is why I blog...

There have been several times where I have considered not blogging anymore... reasons like lack of time, or feeling like I am being 'judged' by others or perhaps sharing more than maybe I should. Then add in the part about not being allowed to share pictures of our new kiddo's (which is of course my favorite thing!) it just makes me wonder if I should even bother. Today I received this email with a picture included of this beautiful, precious family and I knew that without a doubt this is the real reason I blog. If anything I can share even helps bring one child home it was worth it all.

Amy, I have been praying about adoption for two years now. It seems like FOREVER! My biggest prayer has been that my husband would get on board. Today marks and answer to prayer for me as I had him read a part of your blog. I myself started reading two days ago. A friend of mine is fostering to adopt and started up a blog. She emailed me asking me to pray for her and I broke down and told her I had been praying about adoption for two years. She told me about your blog and said it is amazing. I do have to agree with her on that! What I have read so far is like a breath from God. :) God is using you in the blog to talk to me and whoever else reads it. Thank you for that. Anyway.... ask I was saying, I had my husband read part of your blog, your adoption story on Mya and Aleigha. It touched me so much, I thought it would speak to him as it did me. Well... IT DID! We talked and he said I should start looking further into adoption. :) God has answered one prayer today that I have been praying about for 2 YEARS! Praise God!!!!!! Now.... the hard part... to find an agency, figure out where God is calling us to adopt from, and start the process. This is my prayer request I ask of you. I just got done reading your prayer request blog. :) I ask you to pray we are guided to the right agency and for God to speak to us on where we will find our forever daughter. Currently we have 4 biological children. They are all boys. Ages 10, 8, 7 and just about 4. I love them dearly, but know God is calling us to have a little girl in our lives. I also have always thought we would just adopt a 3 year old, but God has also put on my heart that a little girl 4 and under would be just fine as well. Thank you again for your blog. I am not done reading as of yet!!!! I am still looking forward to all of 2008! Hugs to you and will be praying for you as well and would love to have something specific to pray about if you would like. Sincerely, Mary

Would you all join me in prayer for this sweet family who is just starting out on this amazing journey of adoption? Pray that they hear the Lord clearly, pray that He guides their steps and provides for them financially and holds them emotionally. Also I pray for any of you who are uncertain whether or not to take the first step... the need is the call. Go for it!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Learning as we go...

We are learning so much every day with adding these amazing children into our family. Our caseworker asked me the other day how it was ‘really’ going and if there was anything she could have done differently to better prepare us.

Honestly, there was not.

All in all, things are going well- but that can and does change from moment to moment. There have been fleeting moments where I have thought to myself “what in the world did we do?” And then not 5 minutes later I know that I wouldn’t have it any other way. So while it has been hard- and I won’t deny that… I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The funny thing is- the things that I worried about and thought would be hard have not. And then the things I didn’t think twice about have been.

I’m not sure if there is ever any way you could prepare yourself for adding 4 children to your family at once... Actually, come to think of it- there is really no way you could ever prepare yourself for anything that comes your way in your life.

We humans try though don’t we?

We think that we can actually have things all perfectly lined up, planned out- and then real life hits. God knows this though- He knows we try to ‘control’ things, knows we want things to go our way, knows we want things to be easy and comfortable. But if life always went that way then we would think we could live without Him, we wouldn’t realize how much we need God. We all know that when things get really hard that is when we turn to God because it finally hits us that we cannot do it on our own. While I don’t think God wants us to struggle- He allows struggles, and from the struggles we learn to trust Him more. We learn to try to do things on our own less… at least that is until the next time. ;0)

I have found that the best thing I can do to prepare myself for the day is to start off on my knees. Now I’ve always known this- but actually doing it has been another thing. I’m embarrassed to admit that often times that extra 10 minutes of sleep wins over spending time with the Lord. I am learning though…

A couple things I had originally worried about was how to feed 11 children (and 2 adults) and also if the kids would get along with each other. I am happy to report that those 2 areas are going amazingly well. Food is a BIG deal with these kids. HUGE. We have to have the food prepared and ready to serve on by at least 5:00 sharp. But they eat anything and every single time tell me it the best thing they have ever had. (and trust me when I say I am not a great cook!) They also eat a lot. I have learned to just keep things simple for now- and at least double or sometimes triple the recipe. We have a couple huge pots and pans and we are ready to go. We also now have 2 dinner prayers we say together- the girls and then ours. :0)

It has also been a huge blessing is how well the kids are getting along. (I pray that stays the same with 4 girls in their teenage years!) Honestly though, I think that is something that we have to teach our children- to always talk nicely, always respect each other and other peoples belongings and while it’s ok to be angry at someone it is never, ever okay to speak unkindly. We have a zero tolerance rule for not treating each other in a kind way. Now I will admit that there has been some jealousy between the girls- like who gets to sit next to mommy when we read a bedtime story and I don’t dare praise one without praising the others. But all in all they seem to really genuinely like each other and that has been so nice. They play well together, have many of the same likes and dislikes, and do an amazing job of sharing. I am really proud of them all.

The boys are a lot more laid back than the girls, but we have seen some significant delays with them so we have had to spend a lot of extra time in trying to help them ‘catch up’.

Some hard things we were not prepared for was of course the pain of the loss of not getting the baby. This we were totally blindsided by, but trying to trust God, while still enduring the constant painful reminders. Yet we know we must continue to pray as Job prayed: "Teach me what I cannot see" (Job 34:32). God says there is a purpose in everything we go through and we are trying to remember that God is going to reveal things to us through this that we never would have learned had we not gone through this trial. This too was a part of our calling and even though we know Satan was an instrument in this- God is always bigger than Satan's afflictions.

Another trial has been the exhaustion. There have been days where I have gone without a shower (pretty thought I know) there was literally just no time left between hugging away a hurt and nursing them through the constant sickness we have been hit with in our house- flu, pink eye, pneumonia, cough, colds, then repeats.:0)

Those are the things I didn’t prepare myself for… the utter exhaustion and then the guilt of still wondering if it would ever be enough. There were/are days where I feel like the life is being drained from me. Yet then there are the moments where I can see the change in them, feel them starting to reach out to me, to take one tiny baby step towards authentic bonding. Times where they wrap their little arms around me and lay their warm cheeks on my shoulder and trust me enough to let them wipe away their many, many tears. Moments where they have opened up to me about the painful experiences in their past… times where I see such a longing, such a hope in their eyes that it pierces me to the depths of my soul.

Through this all though it’s funny, and at the same time sad, that I literally have to make an effort to stop and count my blessings- but I do. Sometimes I admit I get so caught up in the moment, so wrapped up in my exhaustion, in the work ahead, in the hard parts- the fears of failure- that I loose focus on how blessed we really are. I so wish that being grateful came naturally to me- but it doesn’t always. It has been a lesson for all of us here. Change is hard, whether it’s good or bad change, and it’s easy to focus on the hard parts instead of the plan that God is unraveling before our very eyes.

All in all, through this emotional rollercoaster, God is faithful and we honestly are doing really well. We still have a long road ahead of us of healing- and real bonding takes time… but I also know that God is taking care of us. He is there, often times through many of you- holding us up when we feel like crumbling through your encouraging words, your prayers and your support. Our lives have changed drastically- theirs and ours- but it’s a good change and I wouldn’t want it any other way. :0)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Parade

Saturday night we took the kids to the Christmas parade that our little town puts on. They were so excited and couldn't quit talking about how they had seen the 'real' Santa all the way home!

Learning how to do the girls hair has been just a little challenging for me. Since I am not ready to attempt corn rows yet I thought we had come up with a really great solution when I found these cute little clip on pony tails. That was, until I kept finding them pretty much everywhere except for on the girls heads...

Like on Kaden...

And on Keegan...

And even on the dog...

Do you think they are trying to tell me something?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wanted to Clarify

I want to thank each one of you for your sweet words of encouragement and support. You have no idea how much that means. I know this system can be confusing but I do want to clarify that CPS (Child Protective Services) WAS ON OUR SIDE. They were fighting for us to get the baby and have her placed in our home with her siblings- forever. The kids were presented to us as a sibling group of five because CPS determined the children would thrive most effectively when placed together in an adoptive family. It was their wish that they remain together, the 3 separate foster families involved agreed and the adoption was set in motion. Then, the foster family of the baby decided just days before placement into our home that they wanted to keep her. (they didn't want to adopt the 4 older children just the baby). So, they hired an attorney who went to court against the CPS attorney to try for permanent custody of the baby. They won. We were not allowed to hire our own attorney because we did not have legal standing (we were just the 'wanna be' adoptive parents trying to make things right for these kids that have already lost so much). The foster family however DID have legal standing to hire an attorney because the baby had been in their home for over a year. Now I will say there are things that CPS should have done (like a find a foster home where they could be together all along or do weekly visits between the siblings) but they did not. (They did visits but not as often as they should have for the judges liking). Therefore, the judge ruled that the sibling bonds were not as strong as the her bonds to her foster family. Looking over it now, in my view there were many mistakes made along the way. The system is not perfect. Humans are not perfect. All I can say is as I held our new children today and watched the tears run down their faces with yet another loss in their young lives- I found it even harder to find a way to help them believe that we too are not ever going to leave them.

When your heart is broken...

Have you ever felt like you heard God clearly and then everything comes crashing down at once and you begin to doubt yourself and sometimes even Him?

We just got the call from the CPS worker that the baby would indeed spend the rest of her life with her foster family and not be joining our family as originally said. Honestly, I am blown away that a judge would do this- but trying with all of strength to praise and worship God even through the hurt and confusion.
I'm trying to remember that God can see the whole picture and that 'I' cannot.
I'm trying to make sense of it all, and yet remember that my human mind cannot possibly wrap itself around how the God of our universe sees things.
I'm trying to understand why God gave us a sibling group of five and then changed it to four.
I'm trying to understand how this system works, why it's so inconsistent and why the kids are always the ones who get stuck in the middle.
I'm trying to figure out how to tell our other kids she will not be here, and how I am possibly going to have enough arms wide enough to hold them all while they hurt.
I'm trying to figure out how I will face taking down her baby bed and returning her precious pink bows, clothes and toys.
I'm trying... but this is just so, so hard.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Things that work for us

Here are a few of the things we do to help keep washing dishes and laundry under control. Everyone has a cute towel on a hook in their room that they use after bathes and then hang it back up. It really cuts down on towel washing. After doing laundry we put them on a shelf in the laundry room under the child's name then they all have to put them away (usually about 1 to 2 times a week.) For the little ones they all have a water bottle on a shelf in the frig with their name on it. It cuts down on dirty cups and if they are thirsty they just help themselves. (We do lots of water at our house).

If anybody else has any good time saving, money saving or organization tips I'd love to hear from you. I need all the help I can get!!!

Wish list

Anybody happen to have an extra one of these laying around? LOL
No, seriously- we have people hunting but if you happen to know of a church or someone selling a 15 passenger that is cheap and actually runs let me know. We are getting desperate!! :0)

Names changes

3 year old Kai: "What is my name now?"
Me- "your name is Kai now"
Kai- "and who is she now?" (pointing to biological sister)
Me- "she is Jayla now"
Kai- "And who are you?"
Me- "I'm mommy now"
Kai- "This is so confusing!"
Me- "yes it is Kai, yes it is". LOL

All in all I have to say that changing names has gone fairly well. We started off calling them by their new name along with their old name, and have just recently started to not use the middle name as often. If they do call each other their birth name we do not say anything about it. I know in time it will become natural for them anyway. My friend Amy J asked me how that worked with the school since their adoption will not be finalized for 6 months still. Upon placement into our home CPS gives us a letter to give to the schools that allow them to go by their new names. So basically they are now allowed to use our last name and go by their new names. :0) I am so thankful for that otherwise it would be even more confusing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Bedtimes I believe with any child, but especially adopted children who have had unstable pasts, structure and routine are HUGE. Because of this, any time we add in a new family member our routine becomes a major priority so that we can help the child(ren) feel empowered to know what to expect next. With all of the new changes and with their little lives feeling out of their control - I feel this is the best thing we can do for them- to let them know they are safe and that everything is going to be ok. They quickly feel confident and know that food will be served to them at certain times, that they get to play at certain times, we have bath time, clean up time, chore time (which lets them know they are a team player and a real part of the family) and also when bed times are. Sleep is another MAJOR factor. Even as an adult when I am tired everything seems so much worse, so much harder and so much more overwhelming. After a good nights sleep-even when things are not going to be easy- I feel like they are a lot more manageable. Our kids are the same way. Also, I know for my sanity I need some times when my brain is still functioning to have time to myself. So, one thing we have always, always done is have early bed times. It helps our kids concentrate in school better (I’ve heard stories from my kids about other kids who constantly fall asleep in class) and helps them to feel more confident when they are well rested. I know that sometimes things happen and it is hard to get your child to bed on time- so we always start extra early. :0) Right after dinner (we eat early around here too- between 5 and 5:30) we go straight to bath time. (they all love bathes especially when there are bubbles!) After bath time we brush our teeth then head in for story time and family devotions. It is a big deal for all of us to sit in one room together for even 15 minutes each day (of course there are times when one of us are not able to be home to do this but we try our best). We do a short devotion and then the kids get to say any prayer request or praises they have. I have found that by doing this they bring up a lot of things that I don’t think they otherwise would have thought to tell me. It’s so awesome to see them come together, know they are supported and loved because we are all willing to listen and then pray for them. Even the new children have quickly learned what a great thing this is. After that the kids all head off to their rooms for bed time. If we are early then they can lay in their beds and look at a book if they want (or sometimes just talk and giggle) but they know it is time to start settling down for the night.
Someone asked how I get them to stay in their rooms- well, I found out another good thing about our one on one time. I told them that if they came out and interrupted someone else’s one on one time that they would be moved to the back of the list. Can I just tell you that for the first time- not ONE of them came out and asked for more water, another potty break or any other extremely creative idea they come up with to stay up later. :0) Yeah!
Tomorrow I’ll try to share some other things we are trying to stay organized with a large crew. And I wanted to say thank you or your encouraging comments. In the mist of all this craziness it really means a lot to me. I know we have a long way to go and a lot to learn but we are so thankful for you all and thankful that we can feel God’s hands all over us. (trust me, the one on one time idea came from Him!) :0)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Shop Less- Live More

Good reason to be done with your Christmas shopping NOW~ before you even begin...

One on One

So I noticed that the seven little ones have been starting to fight about who gets to sit on my lap and I've seen them starting to compete for my attention. We try really hard to control the competition in our house and focus on individual strengths- not who's better than who at what. (I detest sibling rivalry). One of my biggest worries with a family this size was how we are going to make sure that everyone gets enough one on one time. I honestly feel like I could sit on the floor all day and do nothing but hug and it still wouldn't be enough. Just so many needs to be met right now that it could almost drain me. So today we came up with a little plan that I think it going to be a huge help. We started it tonight and it was so much fun! Each child drew a number so we knew the order. Bed time around here is at 7:00. (Early I know, but they have to get up at 6:20 a.m and they are tired if not.) Yet we decided that a little extra time wouldn't hurt. So, each night a different child will get to stay up 30 minutes extra to have special mommy daddy time. Tonight it was Jayla's turn. We played a game of her choice for the first 15 minutes and then after that we just sat on the couch and hugged and talked about her day. She shared about her first day of school, without being interrupted, and we asked her about her favorite things to eat and how she was feeling. I even asked her if she could take a vacation anywhere in the world where it would be- and she said "Walmart". LOL Easy to please! Then we prayed with her, hugged her some more, told her how proud we are of her and finally tucked her into bed (with her other sisters already snoozing away). We plan to do this with all of them- just a little extra time during the week to make sure we are truly connecting. In my dream world I would have hours and hours to just stare into every one of my children's eyes and know every single thought they were having, and every single detail of their day. But since that is not possible with the way God designed our family we are just doing the best we can to make sure nobody is left behind, and that everyone knows how loved they are.
Tomorrow night is Aleigha's turn, I am looking forward to it already.


Wipe noses, give hugs, wipe noses, give hugs... you get the picture. :0)