Friday, December 19, 2014

making some decisions & changes

Sorry for the quiet again.  Lots of things happening around here since my last post about the hard & the beautiful stuff.

We've made some decisions about some changes we are making as a family.  It's nothing I ever thought I could or would do, but we are taking the plunge into homeschooling our 2 littlest punkins.

I am beyond words at how supportive Kemeri's school has been of our decision. They have truly invested themselves in understanding not just her educational needs, but her emotional ones as well.  She will continue to receive her therapies, but now they will come to our home.

And I will do my best to continue the good work they've been doing to help her catch up while also pouring all I have into this little one's heart to help her understand that family is forever.

We have already started converting the "green room" (it used to be painted now has green furniture, so it's still considered the green room) into a place that houses some basic preschool materials.  I am so thankful for all of the online resources, other homeschooling moms, & especially my oldest daughters, who are both teachers, for inspiration.

We decided that both girls would benefit from being at home, & Kendi has loved it.  Kemeri has had a trial run since we've battled some illness, but as of today, we are official (we had an IEP meeting at her school & discussed the new arrangements).

Truth be told, I'm a little nervous.  Those doubts of "what if I'm horrible at this?" can so easily creep in.  But then I remind myself that motherhood has taken me out of my comfort zone time & again as I have sought to do things in each of my children's best interest.  Right now, we believe it is in these sweet girls' best interest to work on establishing confidence in the fact they are an amazingly special part of our family.  We pray that they find strength in that knowledge that inspires them to spread their wings & follow their dreams as they grow.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

hard & beautiful

In case you haven't heard, November is National Adoption Awareness Month.  My facebook feed is full of encouraging pictures and sayings about adoption.  However, this year I've noticed more people taking the time to balance the warm fuzziness with the realities involved in adoption.  I am super-glad about that.  I think in any matters of the heart, it is easy to get caught up in romanticizing about it and not ever being real about the nitty-gritty involved.  It's like marriage...if you have taken all kinds of time dreaming about the wedding and planning the wedding and fantasizing about the fairytale life you will have but given no time to preparing for the demands of the commitment of marriage and the potential struggles you may encounter, you'll find yourselves in the weeds in a hurry.  So to the folks that have kept it real in a way that was transparent enough to give constructive information without divulging the personal details of your child's story, I appreciate you.  I do believe there's a line of appropriateness.  Joe & I have been open about how we have navigated the ups and downs of marriage, but we don't ever throw one another under the bus, and there are certain details that are meant to be kept between a husband and wife.  I believe this is true of parenting, as well.  

Anyway, I haven't said much in this month of awareness because I have been contemplating it all. I am passionate about children having families, this is true.  However, I have been concerned about some of the "rainbow & unicorn" mentality that I have seen.  There are absolutely beautiful moments, especially those lump-in-the-throat ones where you see your child for the very first time.  They are photo-worthy & make your heart swell.  

There are also the tough moments.  The questions you don't have answers for, the realities of pain behind those questions, and the insecurities that have taken root in your child stemming from early experiences they cannot even put words to but feel in the depths of their souls.  And many times when they can't find the words for those things, their behaviors reflect the uncertainty of it all.

So we seek to find balance.  We balance the beauty that is developing as we work through the fears and questions.  And I take pictures like this...

To the onlooker, this is such a sweet moment between sisters.  Indeed it is, but what you should know is that it is really a picture of balance.  One sweet daughter has been struggling as they discuss "family" at preschool.  She asks often, "Did you miss me when I in China?"  Her heart seems to need to know that she belongs here and that we need her as much as she needs us.  So we process, we love, we reassure.  Today was a rough day for her, but there is beauty.  She has a family to continue walking through the uncertainty, and in the immediate, she finds comfort snuggling on a snowy afternoon watching a movie with her sister.  That is the full story of this picture.

Hard and beautiful.  I don't have all the answers and I can't make everything right, but I am thankful every day for the resources God put in my path to help prepare us to expect the hard and look for the beautiful.  If you love raising children and feel pulled to adoption, great!!!  I would encourage you to talk to other adoptive families, check out the latest literature on adoption, and most importantly, seek input from adult adoptees that so graciously share their stories.  I think these are some of my most treasured insights, so be willing to listen, even if it is hard to hear. As the saying goes, anything worth doing is bound to be difficult.  My marriage, raising my children...yes, worth the hard to experience the beautiful.  I am thankful.

Monday, October 20, 2014

celebrating royalty

My youngest baby isn't much of a baby anymore.  Miss Kendi Hope turned 4 years old last weekend!

She is a self-proclaimed princess, which I believe suits her just fine.

She lives big...and loud!! :o)

She loves even bigger . . .

Like many little girls, she is all about Frozen, so she was quite giddy about getting Frozen undies!

The Queen Elsa doll that sings the theme song from Frozen was also a hit.

She only had one birthday request, & that was for an Elsa dress AND an Anna dress, because she couldn't be Elsa without her sister, Anna (which is always played by Kemeri)!!

This was by far the favorite gift, & right after this moment, she promptly handed Kemeri the Anna dress.  Like I said, she loves big.

Reese cupcakes were the requested birthday treat.

My precious Kendi Hope, you are beautiful inside & out.  We love your sweet, sassy spirit with all our hearts & are blessed by your wonderful self!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

happy places

There is just something about being outdoors.  Being outdoors with children is even more wonderful.  We have a nice trail nearby that goes through the woods & then empties out onto a grassy field with a paved trail around the perimeter.  We have been intentional about getting outside to enjoy this beautiful fall weather.  It's good for the soul.
On another afternoon, I took the two littlest girls back while the others were in school.  They each had a baggie for collecting treasures.  Being in the woods ranks right up there with being near the ocean.  It just feels good.
Thankful for the peaceful moments spent with family.

Monday, September 15, 2014

we can still wing it

Joe reminded me yesterday that sometimes the spontaneous plans can be the most fun, so we took advantage of a beautiful day & headed to the zoo.  It seemed a bit crazy b/c we didn't have much time, but we did it anyway.  I'm ever so glad we did!  The big boys even came along, and we were able to visit the new "Africa" section of the zoo along with a few other favorite things along the walk back to that area.
We just happened to arrive just in time to feed the giraffes & see them up close & personal.  So fun!
You'll note Kaya is M.I.A. in the next picture & looking like an angry photo-bomber in the one after.  You'll have days like that!  It's funny b/c we've learned to embrace those moments (& find the humor when you happen to capture them in a picture).  Add one to the classics!
Sweet girl has a special love for her brother.  Fun day, & now we're on to Monday. :o)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I heard you

Raising children is hard sometimes.  Raising children that come from a rough start that didn't include you for the first 4.5 years of their life is hard a lot of the time.  I've mentioned before that I always want to be real on my blog while also protecting my children.  But I want to be honest about the realities for those considering adoption.  Or just parenting in general!! Most things worthwhile take huge emotional investment, most especially when raising kiddos.
K'Tyo settled into life in our family with relative ease.  Over the last couple of years, though, we have begun to have to address and work through some academic and behavioral things.  Some days I struggle because I feel like every interaction with my son is corrective in nature.
Enter soccer.  K'Tyo asked to try soccer this year instead of playing flag football like he has chosen the last couple of years.  Before the first practice, I had a chat with him about really focusing on what his coach was saying so that he could learn this game that a lot of the other kids have already played a couple of seasons.  I was thrilled to see him during the first practice (& every practice after) tuned in and putting forth a great effort to do the things as they were being taught.  Even better, I could praise him for that!!  Praise can be such an amazing connector.  I try to notice every positive thing aside from scoring because I don't want him to ever feel like praise is strictly athletic performance-based. That may sound funny, but one thing I've learned is that when a child has lived in survival mode, they learn quickly how to get the attention & approval of others by putting on a "show". I want him to know his life isn't a's a series of opportunities to learn, grow, try, fail, try again, & ultimately be motivated by the desire to do the right thing in every opportunity.  We all get moments to shine, but let that be the by-product and not the goal.
This past Saturday was K'Tyo's first soccer game.  Turns out he has some potential in this sport.  His coach made him the captain for this contest, he scored 2 goals at forward, & had 3 saves (allowed no scores) as goalie.  It was very exciting, & K'Tyo had one of those days where all the hard work gave him that opportunity to shine!  When it was over & we were walking to the car, K'Tyo looked at me & said, "I heard you.  You were cheering for me."  He heard me.  Not all the other parents (and believe me, I was not the loudest one!!).  MeHis mom.
I am thankful for the moments that take my breath away and remind me that traveling the tough road is worth it.  I get to be his mom.