Thursday, November 12, 2015

what love sometimes looks like

November has become the month we bring more awareness to adoption.  As I scroll through my facebook feed, I see a mix of posts.  Some bring an awareness of the need, others bring focus on the blessing and privilege of being entrusted with children not born into your family, and yet others bring awareness to the hard parts.  For me, I think it is so important to not glamorize it as if it's some charitable act.  It's a heart response to the reality that sometimes children can't grow up in their first families.  It's the belief that every child should be a treasured part of a family.  It's the willingness to become part of a story that's not just "ours"; there have already been important parts of the story that came before us (first families, cultures, experiences).  It's about being open to hearing and learning from adult adoptees who have such valuable insights because I'm in unfamiliar territory.
It's complicated, but I am thankful for this family that God has entrusted us with.  I envision our family tree; it has children and other people grafted into it that I never would have imagined.  I've had the honor of meeting and knowing some of my children's first families; others I will never know this side of heaven.  They are in my heart all the same. 
All this to say, I do want to share today what love & family looks like in our home.  Mind you, these are the precious moments caught on camera.  There are sometimes tough, sometimes tender moments meant for us to walk through.  Those moments are probably treasured most because it's what being a family really is.  Hard and beautiful.
Love sometimes looks like blankets and sleeping children strewn across the living room.
Love sometimes looks like reading a book with your siblings close by.
Love sometimes looks like helping your brother with his spelling words.
Love sometimes looks like helping with a special dessert for your sister's birthday.
Love sometimes looks like celebrating the day you were born (5 years ago already!)
Love sometimes looks like sharing your new art supplies you got for your birthday with your sister.
Love sometimes looks like going from being the baby of the family to stepping into the role of big brother with grace & being willing to spend time playing (or even helping with homework!).

Love sometimes looks like being a pillow for Gus. :)
Love sometimes looks like collecting leaves in a baggie on a beautiful fall day with your sister.
Love sometimes looks like building legos while still in your pajamas with Ella in your midst.
Love sometimes looks like falling asleep on your daddy after he's been away for business.
Love sometimes looks like snuggling with your sister's pug because her presence is therapeutic.
Love sometimes looks like a well-worn bunny with only one ear left.
Love looks like skyping with your sisters that don't live here anymore, like teasing and laughing about silly family shenanigans, like imperfect moments that are memories in the making...Love is family. O'hana.

Friday, November 6, 2015

love my minions

I'm that mom that is usually scrambling at the last minute for costumes to Trick-or-Treat in, and I'm not one to spend much money on costumes, either.  For whatever reason, I had a moment of inspiration a couple weeks ahead of time this year.  Visions of minions were dancing in my head, & I decided I could put together costumes with either practical items that could be used again or things I could make relatively cheap.  The kids were on board with the idea (they may have just been in shock that I was even discussing costumes ahead of time), so I found some inexpensive yellow long-sleeved shirts online.  I was a little bummed to discover they ran big, but it ended up being a blessing because the kids could wear their coats underneath (it was windy & cold).
The girls already had denim bibs, but bibs for K'Tyo? A) They are not readily available for boys and B) I knew he would not be interested in making them part of his wardrobe.  Have I ever mentioned that I think glue guns rank right up there with duct tape?  Well, they do & I made my boy his bibs with a glue gun and two pairs of jeans he had outgrown.
And the minion goggles?  Friends, the only ones I could find were $12. A piece. Times 4 minions. Umm, no.  Hello hot glue gun AND duct tape (along with canning rings and some black elastic...thank you go*gle). 
All that to say, I think this may be one of my most favorite years ever!  And the funny thing was we did not see one other minion all night, but boy did this group get noticed by kids & adults alike.  Kendi took to waving & saying hello like she was in a parade.  K'Tyo said, "Wow, Mom, you really did good with our costumes!"  I hope he still has this deep appreciation when we pull out the pics sometime during his teenage years. ;)  Without further ado, here are my marvelous minions:
Yay for Grandma & Grandpa living right around the corner...potty break & lots of candy!

Friday, October 30, 2015

i'm a soccer mom

It's true.  I'm embracing it.  I'm a soccer mom.  This Fall season brought not one, but two traveling soccer players.  Kaya was thrilled to be on a travel team like her brother, & WOW did she & her team surprise us!!  They are a completely adorable bunch, but all business on that field.  I really can't remember seeing a group of 8-year-olds so responsive to coaching (which we had really great coaches that did lots of teaching & even more encouraging!).
To our surprise, Miss Kaya ended up playing goalie in a game towards the middle of the season.  I hadn't really pictured her in that position, but my goodness, this girl just keeps surprising us.  She ended up playing goalie in many of the games for a half after that first time & really kept her composure.  She likes it!
Her team played great during the tournament, winning some really close games to make it to the championship game.  For the championship, we only had six girls able to make it (they play 6 vs. 6, so this meant no subs for entire game) and it was super, super cold.  Kaya had a couple of monster saves at goalie and an assist at forward...and they won by a goal!!!  Again, it was really something to see the girls' teamwork and determination.  So very proud!
K'Tyo again had a great season of soccer.  I don't have any action pictures of him because he never stays in one place on the field long enough!  I love to watch this kid fly up and down the field (he plays mid, so he's all over the place).  He continually makes us proud with his 110% effort, but especially his sportsmanship with his teammates as well as opposing players.  His team also made it to the championship game, but they came up just short of winning it.  So proud of them!
So there you have it...I have attained soccer mom status, but even more, I'm their biggest fan in whatever adventures I get to experience with these kiddos.  What fun it is to see the things that bring them joy and develop their character!

Monday, September 14, 2015

back to school...back to blogging

I took the whole summer off of blogging!  Sorry, but not sorry.  While I wish I had bunches of pictures tucked safely here, I'm also glad for just being in the moments.  Our summer was relatively simple, but simple is good.  We did take one trip with Daddy on business, which was great...I will probably post about that another day because we visited some pretty significant sites.  For now, I will share that all my babies (including the grown-up variety) are back to school.  Due to new buildings being constructed, our younger kiddos didn't get back to school until last about a staggered start!  From the third week of August until last week, it felt like someone in our crew was heading back to school.

Kyler & Kameryn, Sophomores in College

Kearsten, Intervention Specialist, SC

Kaelee (& her beautiful friends/co-workers), 1st Grade Teacher, Ohio
At this point, I just want to say that I LOVE that my girls still send me a back-to-school picture, even though they are the teacher now!

Kade, Sophomore

K'Tyo, 4th Grade....Kaya, 2nd Grade

Kendi & Kemeri, Pre-Kindergarten

Back-to-school time always brings a lump to my throat while also making my heart swell with joy as I see each of my children continue to blossom into the people God has created them to be.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

about kaya

After writing about K'Tyo, I thought it would be fun to do a post on each of the kiddos in their different stages of life.  Today is all about Kaya.

Kaya also just finished up another season of soccer.  To be honest, we have been a bit thrown by her budding interest in sports.  She's always been a bit of a, shall we say princess?  That's not a bad thing, but wow, are we now seeing a whole new side to her personality!  She is eager to learn and practice, and even more exciting is that we see her applying the things she's learning when game time rolls around.  She has also learned that her legs are strong and will not only carry her quickly where she wants to go, but they can also send a ball from a long way out right into the goal!  She scored in this fashion during her last game over the weekend, and I love that she still looks for us with that little smile of excitement to make sure we were watching.  Kaya has also shown enthusiasm for basketball and plays often with her brothers in the driveway.  It will be fun to see if she continues enjoying these things or discovers other interests!

Daddy got to help coach Kaya's team this spring, which was so fun.  Being immersed in school work these last few years has not afforded him the opportunity to be involved in this way, so it was a neat experience for both of them!

Kaya is also doing really well in school and has some neat friends.  On her report card her teacher wrote, "Kaya is such a great student.  She is a role model to her classmates and is kind to them." Learning to read and write and add and subtract is all important, but I hope even more for their development as people...People that care about others, that know how to build up others, that know how to apologize, and that know how to forgive, so for her teacher to point out those kind of attributes is such an encouragement to Kaya and reinforces the good stuff!

What a joy it is to see this girl grow, challenge herself, and laugh...a lot! :o)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

about k'tyo

May 9th (I know, I'm a few...ok, 10...days behind) marked FIVE YEARS since we landed in the United States with K'Tyo.  He's now been part of our family for longer than he wasn't, which is kind of hard to fathom at this juncture because I cannot imagine life without him in it.

Just recently, we discovered that he needs glasses for school (he can still get by without them for sports).  When we were at the eye doctor's & found out we would be picking out frames, he looked at me so serious, and slightly worried, and said, "Mom, will you help me pick some that look good?" Bless him.  You can't see in the picture, but these are very cool because the inside of the frames is bright green.  I think he looks great in them!

Soccer continues to be a favorite activity for K'Tyo, and it's been a great tool for drawing parallels with the game of life.  He just finished his first outdoor season with a travel team & we could not be more proud of the character he has shown.  A coach from another team tracked down our phone number to call & commend K'Tyo on his sportsmanship.  During our game with that team, one of their players was hurt during the game.  When the game was over, K'Tyo took it upon himself to go see if the player was doing okay.  He is a serious competitor and plays with his whole heart, but he knows that when it's all said and done, people matter.

He is also a good teammate, celebrating when another has success and encouraging others along the way.  Last week I arrived to pick him up from practice a little early.  They were running ladders, which can be exhausting.  K'Tyo has pretty good endurance when it comes to running & tends to finish at the head of the pack.  When he finished, one of his teammates had just gotten to the opposite end of the field & was alone.  Without being prompted to do so, K'Tyo took off down the field again, gave him a pat on the back, & led the way back.  What a privilege to see him growing, learning, & experiencing so many things!

This past weekend, we got to witness his team come from behind in two tournament games to win the championship!!  After the first game on Saturday, K'Tyo said, "Mom, we were losing, but we didn't give up.  You shouldn't ever give up."  That thinking served them well the next day when they found themselves behind again against a team they hadn't beaten during the regular season.  Well, that & the fact that I remembered to kiss him on the forehead.  You see, before all big games, I kiss the child on the forehead & tell him to play hard and have fun.  Before the championship game, we were having a hard time parking, so we let him out of the car while we took another loop to find a space.  I suddenly realized I didn't kiss him on the head! Well, I have no time to worry about what people might think, so I marched myself out during warm-ups & kissed my boy on the head! It's something we kind of joke about, but I share this because this really is an important thing.  You see, I've realized that in all the moments of playing catch up for his first 4.5 years of life with rules and words and how-to's, the best thing we are learning is how to love each other.  And when I kiss his head, he doesn't get all weirded out like you might think.  He smiles with a knowing that I'm his biggest fan. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

daddy's "congratulations"

This past Saturday it was, as Kendi says, "Daddy's Congratulations".  We decided that was quite a way with words.  While Daddy officially finished his doctoral degree last August, the actual graduation ceremony happens in the spring.

Initially, Joe wasn't sure he was going to participate but was encouraged to do so by several people.  Little did I realize how much we needed this.  It really did feel like a wonderful "congratulations", but it also felt like closure after a very rigorous undertaking.  It meant so much to have everyone there except Kearsten (she is teaching in SC, so too hard to squeeze in that trip) because it truly was a team effort as Daddy worked through this program.

For whatever reason, every family event involves piggyback pictures.

And here's the moment.  Graduating with a doctorate is it's own thing.  Dr. Wilson officially placed Joe's hood on him, which was extra special because Dr. Wilson was not only the chair of Joe's dissertation committee, but he's been such an amazing mentor.

So, do I get to be "Mrs. Dr."? ;o)

Dr. Savage is in this picture with our family, another important person in Joe's journey.

All too soon, Kaya.  All too soon.

Happy Congratulations Day, Daddy...Your team is so proud of you & loves you bunches!!  May God bless you indeed as you continue to seek His plans to use your gifts & passions for His glory.