Thursday, August 11, 2016

Anna 8 Month Update

I'm not sure how, but I've gone too long without an Anna update. Tomorrow marks 8 months home.

So how is Miss Anna?

She's growing and growing ... emotionally, physically, mentally ... she's making huge strides in every area. She's so big and tall, and I have no doubt that I'll one day be looking up to my little girl. After taking a break from in home therapies, which just weren't that great for us, we are going to be switching to doing therapy in a center. But, exciting news, Anna will only be doing speech and OT (mostly speech). She no longer needs PT and is turning out to be a very athletic little girl. As far as speech goes, Anna has a number of words and even more word approximations. She's trying to put words together, but still needs a little more help to get her over the hump. OT will focus some on sensory things and some on fine motor and practical, daily skills as we work to help her make up some of the ground she lost in the first 33 months of her life.

As for fitting into a family, we've seen Anna's and Andrew’s relationship really grow over the summer. She loves him, and he loves her. Like siblings everywhere they are fighting one minute and hugging the next. They have this fake crying game the play where they pretend to cry and then hug each other. It can get rather loud at times and make this mama a little crazy, but I also see that Anna is learning empathy. And in so many things, Andrew is the best teacher and therapist we could ask for. As far as Mama and Daddy go, we are really seeing Anna beginning to show a preference for us. Hugs and kisses are a daily occurrence around here now, and while, she's a Daddy's girl a lot of the time, she definitely knows who her Mama is.

Just like any kiddo, Anna has her moments. Sometimes she'll go days without getting in trouble, then, bam, we have days, like today, where it's one meltdown after another. It's hard being three and learning that you don't always get your way. 😉

So prayer requests: that Anna's speech will continue to progress. That she will continue to grow emotionally and as she matures the tantrums (which are mostly mild and developmentally appropriate) will continue to reduce. For continued good attachment to us, and that she'll continue to trust us more with each passing day. And with that, I'll leave you with a picture of our sweet girl.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

On Organization

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on balancing everything. In order to keep things in balance and running smoothly, organization is key. Over the years, I've tried a number of different things to stay organized. With the advent of the iPhone/iPad, I thought I'd love using apps, but I didn't, and I don't. I do like coupon apps because I'm really bad at clipping and keeping up with coupons, but beyond that, I've found that I'm a paper and pencil type of girl. And there's no changing that. So here are the tools that keep me and my household running smoothly (most of the time).

Item 1: The binder. In this binder you'll find a medical folder (mostly for receipts), a school folder with various contact info and calendars, an adoption folder (self explanatory), a vacation folder for both ideas and upcoming intineraries, estimated tax payment coupons (blah), and a folder for house plans and ideas for our next house (more on that in the months to come). I don't open this binder every day or even every week, but I keep it in my desk where I have easy access. 

Item 2: My planner. This is probably my most important item because it's where I write down everything . . .  birthdays, dinner dates, appointments, bills due, meals (subject to change depending on the mood of the chef ... i.e. me), etc. Finding the right planner has been a bit of a trick. Many years ago I used Erin Condren's life planner. It was super cute, and I loved it. Who doesn't love a cute planner? But it was a bit pricey for my taste, and it was also kind of bulky. So then I tried out cheap Walmart/Target planners for a couple years, and I was underwhelmed to say the least. About a month ago, I decided I needed something in between price wise but still good quality wise. After a little google searching, I happened across the planners by Rifle Paper Company. This planner came last week, and I love it. Aside from the cuteness, it has full month calendar pages as well, as spots for each individual day. There's also a contacts section and a notes section, and the size, quality, and price were all more than right. 


Item 3: My "handy dandy notebook" (Blues Clues reference from my college babysitting days). This notebook was a free gift from Shutterfly. While I could certainly live without it, I like the convencience it adds. Right now I only use it for two things: (1) Meal lists - these aren't recipes. These are all meals that I can make off the top of my head with little variation. If I find or invent a new recipe I like, I'll add it to the list. The lists are organized by chicken, beef, other/fish, and without using this I tend to get in a major rut. I'll cook the same things every week. (2) Scriptures and Notes - this is where I write down scripture references for specific scriptures God gives me as well as notes about my readings and of course, inspirational quotes.

Item 4: My notepad which just happens to be another free gift from Shutterfly. I'm a list maker extraordinaire. I mostly use this for my household and grocery lists. I keep it on the counter where I can jot down stuff we need as it comes to my attention. I've also been known to make lists for trips, school events, Christmas gifts . . . If can be put into a list, I've likely done it.

So there you have it. Four simple items that help keep me and my OCD self organized (or as organized as possible).

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Andrew’s Baptism

For most of his short life, Andrew has had a deep love for God. Two years ago he made the decision that, honestly, seemed like a very natural progression and asked Jesus into his heart. At first, he was nervous about being baptized. He didn't like the idea of going backwards into the water so we decided to wait until he was comfortable. As often happens, time kind of got away from us, and although he's been ready for a while, things kept popping up. Finally, two years after he made the most important decision he'll ever make, he was baptized in the river at my parents' this past Monday evening. Patrick had the privilege of baptizing him, and it was incredibly sweet and special. Andrew has an amazingly tender heart toward God, and I cannot wait to see how he serves Him. (Photos are out of order, but I can't get them to move.)

Sunday, July 17, 2016


Absolutes . . . There are a lot of those in adoption. They are thrown around frequently among families, agencies, counselors . . . 

Your child will . . .

  • always deal with the trauma of her past.
  • never fully heal.
  • always struggle with relationships, attachment, life in general.
  • not be able to control her behaviors due to her past.
Love is not enough. 

These things can't be changed. 

They are all absolutes. Except, I don't believe in absolutes. I've been thinking about this for quite a while. I've wanted to post for almost as long, but I know this will not be a popular post. It won't be one that all or even many agree with. But see, these absolutes don't just contradict my beliefs. They contradict the One in which I believe. They contradict His Word.

I've heard it all. I've read it all. I've feared it all. I'm pretty sure of it. I'm an avid researcher. It's both my friend and my nemesis. But when I go back to the Word of God all of the absolutes don't match up. I do not believe that God intends for any of us to live as a slave to our past whether it be abuse, neglect, abandonment, rejection, or even our own actions. I believe if His Word says it we can do it, it is true, and we can live out our lives according to His scriptures. Everyone. All of us. Period. No one is beyond this or unsaveable. No one.

Before going further I want to clarify a couple things: (1) I believe "ALL scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16) Having said that, there are times when a verse will resonate with me in a way that stands out, and I know God is speaking through that particular verse. (2) I don't believe in one "life verse" per person, and that's it. And if you don't have one? Well you're in trouble. Not even close, but in Anna's case I felt pressed to seek out a verse pertaining to both her situation and her past. And God has been faithful to give me not only one verse relating to her but many. 

So about a month before we picked up Anna I began praying for God to give me a scripture for her. I prayed and prayed. There were many middle of the night prayers. And I honestly expected a flowery, pretty scripture for my little girl. A beautiful, poetic Psalm full of inspiration and beauty. I never, in a million, years expected the scripture that came to me early one morning as I stumbled bleary eyed into the bathroom to wash my face. But I knew as soon as it came that it was for our Anna girl, our fighter, our little warrior. 

" 'No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,' Says the Lord." Isaiah 54:17

"No weapon" . . . "No weapon" . . . "No Weapon" . . . I take that as a promise from God . . . my God, my Jesus, the Holy Spirit . . . my Father, my Healer, my Deliverer, my Savior, my Counselor, my Comforter, my Provider, my Friend . . . "No Weapon" . . . not malnourishment, not abandonment, not rejection, not abuse, not substance abuse, nothing done or not done before she was born during pregnancy, nothing done or not done during her life in the orphanage . . . "No Weapon"!

With this scripture came other scriptures. Some in the days leading up to pick up. Some in the days, weeks, and months since coming home.

"For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them." Psalm 139:13-16

And He led them forth by the right way, That they might go to a city for a dwelling place. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness. Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, Bound in affliction and irons— Because they rebelled against the words of God, And despised the counsel of the Most High, Therefore He brought down their heart with labor; They fell down, and there was none to help. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He has broken the gates of bronze, And cut the bars of iron in two. Fools, because of their transgression, And because of their iniquities, were afflicted. Their soul abhorred all manner of food, And they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions." Psalm 107:7-20

"But He was wounded for our transgressions, He as bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him. And by His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

These scriptures you just read . . . these are my absolutes. No book, no study, no research, none of it takes precedence over these. 

Earlier, one of the absolutes I posted was "love is not enough", and to an extent that is true. My love, my husband's love, human love . . . it's never enough. Not for any of us. But the love of God is far greater, far stronger, and unfailing in every way. It is enough. For all of us.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Balancing Act

So it's not really a secret that I'm a clean freak. I like my house clean. I dislike clutter, and I function best in a clean, somewhat organized home. I use the word "somewhat" because I have kids, and kids are messy. So yes, my house is clean but often has toys scattered end to end.

When I was working, I had a fabulous lady who came every two weeks to clean my house. I cleaned every other week. It helped me keep things balanced when I was busy and didn't have much time at home. But once I stopped working having a cleaning lady seemed like an uneccesary expense. Now that I'm a full time stay at home mom and housewife, I feel like I have two big responsibilities: (1) to keep our home running well and efficiently, and (2) to spend time with my kids and help them learn but not learn to be entertained.

So I've had a few people ask me how I balance it. And here it is. I live and die by my calendar (I'm learning to be more flexible), and I schedule in pretty much everything from cleaning to exercise. I look at what we have going on in the week ahead and work out our schedule accordingly. We are not a go, go, go family, and we spend a lot of time at home. Some of that has to do with my kids' ages, but I'll be the first to admit that I intentionally avoid doing too much because I think it's unhealthy (physically, emotionally, and financially). So below is my loose weekly schedule for housework and cleaning. We try to get outside for at least an hour everyday, and the kids usually end up in the wading pool. I try to get up and get dressed before the kids and get things going while they're still asleep. I take advantage of naptime to get a lot done as well.

Naptime - clean up kitchen; put away laundry; sweep; swiffer if needed; ironing; prep dinner if needed; any and all daily maintenance stuff.
4-5 times/week - cook dinner. After dinner I clean the kitchen again, and Patrick takes care of baths. If Patrick isn't going to be home, I will usually feed the kids leftovers to avoid too much clean up.  We usually eat out once/week. Sometimes twice.

Wash sheets and kids towels. I always wash the sheets the day before I change the sheets because I'm lazy and hate folding them.

Strip beds and put on clean sheets; wash clothes; fold clothes.

Tues. or Wed.:
Bathe dogs and wash their bedding. Anna is fascinated by the dogs getting baths, and I sometimes bathe them outside while the kids play in the little pool.

Wed. or Thurs.;
Grocery shopping - we all hate it, but we also like to eat. I try to do it early so we can play outside before lunch.
Wash and fold more clothes.

Thurs. or Friday:
Clean house - pick up everything, vacuum, mop, dust, scrub bathrooms, wipe down blinds and baseboards ... I try to do this weekly with the thought that it might not get done next week. This is the biggest, most time consuming, and demanding job of the week. The other stuff can usually happen during naptime or after bedtime, but I cannot clean the whole house while Anna is asleep.
Wash and fold more clothes (I'm forever doing laundry).

Saturday and Sunday:
Wash our towels, kitchen towels, beach towels, etc. Try to do as little as possible. We usually try to squeeze in yard work and some fun stuff on the weekends.

Fun and entertainment: we try to go outside every unscheduled morning (usually at least 4 days/week), and we try to do it early because it's HOT! Of course, we always have appts. to work around. I try to run/workout 2-3 evenings a week, and Patrick will do baths and get Anna to bed. This is for my sanity, and the safety of my family (that's a joke ... so chill). When we have stuff going on, we adjust the schedule accordingly.

Come fall, Andrew will start soccer again, and I'm sure we'll tweek the schedule. And it'll continue to be tweeked as my kids get older and have more and different activities, but for today this is how we roll.