Monday, January 26, 2015

My 6 Year Old Has A Dream

I shared last week that my 6 year old daughter, who we adopted from an orphanage in Ethiopia at age 3, had been learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. at school.

Today she brought home some work she did last week.  It took my breath away.



Her dream "that all children in the orphanage would be adopted." is beautiful and heart-breaking coming from a child who remembers life in an orphanage!

I looked at that schoolwork with her dream at about 4:45pm today, then at 6pm I checked my email and I had an email from our adoption agency notifying all their Ethiopia adoptive families that they are closing down their Ethiopia adoption program due to too many roadblocks created by the Ethiopian government to stop international adoptions amid rhetoric by officials that Ethiopian children should stay in Ethiopia.

I want Ethiopian children to stay in Ethiopia, too, if at all possible, but not at the cost of growing up in an orphanage or worse, on the streets!

Praise God our little girl is home, but it makes me so sad for Ethiopian orphans left behind, children who could have had hope for a family and now will likely grow up without one.  Will you join me in praying for the orphans in Ethiopia?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Great Lotions to Keep Children's Skin Moisturized

I have one fair skinned child with pretty sensitive skin and a tendency towards eczema if I don't keep her well moisturized, especially in the winter months.  And then my Ethiopian daughter has dry skin that must be moisturized twice a day with a thick lotion or she gets very ashy.

I've found two lotions that I use on my kids that are great and do the trick to keep them moisturized.  They are a little on the pricey side, but I've found it's totally worth the investment because if I let their skin get dry it leads to needing the more expensive prescription steroid creams (which can also have side effects).  These lotions were recommended to me by a pediatric dermatologist a few years ago and they really work! 

Here they are:





and




*** Disclaimer: I am an Amazon.com affiliate and will receive a small portion of the sale should you purchase a product after using one of my links, but I only recommend products I truly use and love for my family.***

Monday, January 19, 2015

Joining Hands




In some ways, I am living that dream, every day in my own home.  It is a privilege I do not take lightly.

But, walking that out, is tricky at times.  As a mother to both white and black children, I want so much for their skin color not to matter, but then I see how sometimes it does.  And the most compassionate thing is not ignoring that reality or saying it isn't a thing, but empathizing with it.

Last week I got an email from my daughter's kindergarten teacher, one that went out to all the parents about what the kids would be learning that week.  When I saw they were "learning all about Martin Luther King," I sucked in my breath, my stomach kind of flopped, and my palms began to sweat.  Not at all because I didn't want them to learn about Martin Luther King, Jr., I've played the speeches for my kids at home, we read books about the civil rights movement, and talk freely about skin color.  My 3 older kids have all learned about MLK at this public school.  But, my older 3 kids are white and it feels different when they learn about the civil rights movement than when my youngest daughter, who is black, learns about the civil rights movement.

The difference is that when my white children hear the message of MLK, I believe (and hope) they hear that you should not judge anyone based on the color of their skin, but rather the content of their character.  But, when my black daughter hears the message of MLK, I fear that she will hear that there was a time not so long ago in our country when people with her skin color were seen as less than because of the color of their skin.  And they had to fight for the right to be treated like everyone else.  Which, of course, makes me worried that she will then begin to feel less than.

We've not focused so much (or at all) yet on slavery or other more hideous aspects of black history with our 6 year old daughter and although I know she will have to know some day, as her mom, my desire is to shelter her from that.

I met up today with a friend who is white and raising a black son, she had just seen the movie Selma, which I have not yet seen.  I shared with her my fears about what my daughter was picking up on from black history lessons and she nodded, sucked in her breath in a way I know so well, and confessed that she is glad her son doesn't fully understand it all right now.  It made me feel less crazy to see my feelings echoed in another mama who is living the dream.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. teaching seems to have been done very well for my kindergartener, focusing mostly on that he wanted children of all skin colors to work and play together in peace, rather than just focusing on black people as the marginalized group.

And today, my 6 year old daughter was reciting parts of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have A Dream speech to anyone who would listen!

So, we're going to keep walking this thing out, with compassion for people of all skin colors, praying for change, and doing whatever we can to be the change we'd like to see in the world.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Snippets of Our Real Life

This was the homework scene this afternoon around my kitchen table:


I have 2 things to say about that picture:

1.  Yes, my Christmas card display is still up, I took down all the other Christmas stuff, but I can never bear to take the cards down before February.  I love seeing all the faces of kids we've watched grow up!  So many sweet families each with their own story (several touched by adoption, like our family)!

2.  Yes, Madeline the dog is sitting on a chair at the table and everyone is carrying on as if that isn't strange, because sadly, it isn't!  Our dog regularly jumps up on a chair at the table.  I know the dog trainer we used when she was a puppy would now refuse to claim us as clients, but in our defense she does actually get "OFF" if you give her the command.  However I think we missed the class on getting her to stay off!  As a bonus, though, she's an excellent help with math homework

Here's another view after I moved the Triscuit box out of the way:

Speaking of Triscuits, did you ever think about the fact that they rhyme with "biscuits"?  Yeah, me neither until today!

I taught my 9 year old daughter to make homemade biscuits last weekend.  I think she's just about ready to graduate to baking without much help from me.  I can't wait for the day she makes me breakfast!



Half-Past Kissin' Time

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Baby Pictures

Ah, baby pictures.  We all have them of ourselves as chubby little babies and we all treasure the tons we have of our own precious babes!  



Only that's not the case for everyone.  Many children who lost their first families, and are orphans or have been adopted, do not have baby pictures.  No sweet images of their babyhoods!

I stood up in a court room last Thursday and fought for two precious children from my Child Advocates case, children who have been without family for far too long.

It was not easy, there was opposition to my recommendations.  But, I had many friends praying for the situation, for God to give the judge wisdom.  And an hour into the hearing when it really began looking like things were not going in the direction I wanted and truly believe is best for these two children, I prayed right there in the courtroom standing before the judge (silently, of course).  And God worked in His mighty way! After a short recess we came back and the judge granted my recommendations for a plan for these children to give them what every child should have, family!

Outside the courtroom, as we worked out the details of visitation with a family member who the children have not seen in years, she asked the kids if they had any questions for her.  The 10 year old boy sheepishly asked, "Do you have any baby pictures of me?"

Oh, my heart!  Sweet boy who has been through so much!  But, God is a God of restoration.  And this relative DOES have baby pictures!

May all children have families to cherish them.

Friday, January 9, 2015

8 Things I Learned Over the Holidays

1.  A remake of the movie Annie can be a great thing.

We took the kids to see the new Annie the weekend before Christmas and I was a little worried because the original Annie was one of my favorite movies from my childhood and remakes are never as good as originals.  But, this movie was different enough, that it was lovely in it's own way.  The main actress is amazing and she really makes the movie!  For other adoptive parents, be warned, there are a few hard scenes, ones that portray some of the heartache our kids go through when they don't have families, thankfully I'd been forewarned and we had a few conversations with Little Girl before and after the movie.  I think those conversations, although never easy, bringing up that dialogue, stopping from the busyness of life to acknowledge the pain in our child's past, is ultimately a really good thing.

Now, as a bonus, my kids are singing the song "It's a Hard-Knock Life for Us" when we have family chore time!


2.  I really need to capitalize more on the before Christmas clean-out.

As it turns out, the statement, "We don't have room for anything new, so nobody is opening any gifts until we get rid of some things," is a really motivational mantra to encourage my kids to actually part with some of their things!  Unfortunately I didn't have time to figure this out until Dec. 23rd, so the cleaning out that we could do was limited, but we did fill a few bags.  I just love our playroom game shelves all organized by size of the game boxes!  Notice there is no before picture with them all just crammed wherever there was space!





3.  Taking a Christmas Eve picture of 4 kids plus 1 dog in front of the Christmas tree will not produce a picture where everybody is smiling at the same time, but oh how cuddly they all look!





4.  Christmas morning is definitely a time to just ignore the mess.

I think I already knew this, but I love our Christmas mornings at home, no stress, nowhere to be, time to reflect on the BEST gift of Jesus, seeing the delight in our kids as they open gifts from us, and enjoying time together as a family.





5.  Getting the 11 year old a camera for Christmas was a really good idea!

It's so hard to buy for kids as they get older and we are still resisting the iPhone thing for my middle school son, although he'd still really like one.  His Christmas wishlist was pretty pathetic and no help, with things like new shoelaces on it! Honestly, poor deprived child!  When I saw the list in November I was like, "If you need new shoelaces, I think we can probably get you some before Christmas!"  I was at a loss for what to get him, but then I thought of the idea of his own camera, a DSLR (which my husband and I don't even have), because he's gotten very interested in photography and he's taking a photography class at school this spring semester.  Well, he loved it, and I love that he is learning a real skill as he plays around with lighting and lenses and shutter speed.



6.  With all the racial issues going on in our country right now, this happy scene I discovered in my foyer brought me great joy.

My 6 year old daughter wanted a doll bed for Christmas and after she opened it, she promptly set it up and snuggled two of her dollies in it.  I just think this is what the world needs more of, people of dark skin and light coming together as family.










 


7.  I'm so glad we started the Christmas morning tradition of homemade doughnuts years ago!


Because, yummy!  

 
And the doughnut holes?  Even better, because you can justify eating several they're so small!






8. Hilda the Hippo, although tested on lions and bears at the zoo, is not actually an indestructible dog toy!

This year I researched to find a stuffed toy to buy Madeline, our goldendoodle, one she wouldn't be able to de-stuff in just a couple days.  I had high hopes for Hilda the Hippo after watching the view about how the toy was even tested on zoo animals and even paid more that I typically pay for a dog toy, but sadly Christmas night, Madeline was able to rip both ears off the hippo and soon got all the stuffing out of Hilda's leg! If I can ever get it uploaded, I have a funny video of Madeline wildly pulling stuffing out of the hippo.  I'm thinking I should send that video to the company that made the toy!!


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

When I assign my 11 year old yard work chores . . .

One benefit of not hiring a yard crew to take care of our yard, like all our neighbors do, is that it makes a great consequence for bad kid behavior!

A few days before Christmas the 11 year old was relegated outside to put in some time doing leaf duty.  (Our autumn is more in December so our yard was covered in leaves.)

I was busy doing some things inside, likely wrapping presents, or some such holiday prep.  After a bit I looked out the window to see how the 11 year old was progressing in his chore and I saw his 7 year old brother was out working alongside him.




I took their picture because they were so cute and then continued on with my inside work.  When I looked outside a little later, lo and behold now the 11 year old had also recruited his sisters (who were still clad in their pajamas because no school so why change out of jammies) into the backyard to assist him in leaf duty.



I couldn't believe it!  How in the world did he convince all 3 of his siblings to help him complete his chore consequence?  And they were happily working!!  AND he had trained them all to do the various tasks of leaf blowing, raking, scooping and periodically changing the trash bag once it got full!

Sure there was some of this:


But, real work got done.  The entire backyard was thoroughly raked and about 6 bags of leaves generated!

My 11 year old son is always telling me when I encourage him to learn to do menial jobs well, that he won't need those skills because he is going to be the boss when he grows up.

Well, I gotta hand it to him, the kid does have some managerial skills!