Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Having 4 Kids

Sometimes having 4 kids that span the ages of 9 years old through 3 is hard.

Sometimes people look at my family like we are crazy.

Going out to dinner as a family has become a team sport.  One where my husband and I have little pep talks in the car on the way over with sayings like, "You gotta bring your 'A game'!"  

And we actually high-five each other walking out of the restaurant for surviving and not creating too much of a scene.  

This past weekend, I literally said to the children as we left dinner, "Congratulations!  Nobody spilled their drink, licked their plate, or fell out of their seat!  And none of the other people in the restaurant even had to ask to move to a table farther away from us because you guys were being too loud!  Well done, kids!"

My 9 year old replied, "Well, I did lick my knife."

I was at a playdate with 2 other moms and their kids recently and one of the moms (who has 2 kids) was talking about the decision to have a 3rd child or not.

It definitely got me to thinking some things.  Like how much less chaos we'd surely have with 50% less kids.  And just how long it's been since I had a manicure (can't remember the last).  And how ridiculous the laundry generated by a family of 6 is!

But if we'd stopped at 2 kids, I'd miss out on the blessing of scenes like this:

My oldest teaching the two littles to do jumping jacks.

And that, my friends, is way better than manicures or fewer loads of wash!

(Disclaimer in case anyone is considering an intervention:  This picture is from a few weeks ago, I have actually taken the Christmas cards down now!)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

No more dog phobia here!

You would have to have lived in my house these past 2 months to understand the significance of this photo.  The HUGE progress it depicts!

Many children adopted from Ethiopia come home and are afraid of their new family's pet dog(s).  As expected our new little girl was scared of our dog.  Terrified really.

When we were still in Ethiopia with her we got a glimpse into what we'd face once we got home.  At our guesthouse there were some adorable newborn kittens, only a few weeks old.  The kittens were mostly outside and we'd just hear their tiny little mews, but one day the door was opened and one of the tiny kitties ventured inside.  The kitty was the size of my hand, but you would have thought Little Girl had just encountered a lion by the way she reacted!  Even once we calmed her from the initial fit and petted the kitten ourselves, she wanted nothing to do with that kitty no matter how much my husband and I or the ladies working at the guesthouse coaxed her.

Of course once we got home, she was terrified of our dog, and Madeline the dog spent a whole lot of time in her crate those first few weeks.  But, slowly Little Girl began to tolerate the dog (as in they could be in the same room together without screaming).

And now, Little Girl loves our dog.  She's giving her a kiss in the picture above!

And it's not just our dog.  As we walk past all the cars waiting in the car line at the elementary school, Little Girl squeals in delight at every dog she sees sticking its head out of a car.  Her joy in seeing dogs is so extreme that another mother I don't know at school recently asked me if we have a dog because every day when Little Girl is so excited to see her dog in car line she thinks to herself, "I hope they have a dog."  That sentiment was so funny to me and I just had to share with the other mom, because really 2 months ago, Little Girl's fear was so strong I was wishing we didn't have a dog!

But, it seems Madeline has turned Little Girl into a dog-lover after all!  Praise God for tangible proof of the progress we've all made these past 2 months!

****Yes, I know Madeline needs a bath and a good brushing, somebody really should have stopped me before we got a furry, furry, blond dog!  Kinda reminds me of our white kitchen floor!  The floor and the dog show dirt in the worst way!****

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I Rock

About a month ago my husband was tucking our 4 year old into bed, our new daughter had been home from Ethiopia about a month, the 4 year old said, “I wish there was a rocking chair in my room.”

My husband told me about the comment later that night in the blessed quiet of all-four-of-our-children-are-in-bed, and my heart felt it might break in two.

I've been rocking our new little girl to sleep every night in the rocking chair in the girls' room.  But, it's been a very long time since I rocked that 4 year old boy to sleep.

His comment about wishing for a rocking chair in his room was so pitiful, but it's true meaning was clear.

My boy wants to be rocked!

The next night about 10 minutes before it was time for me to start rocking Little Girl to sleep, I called my 4 year old son in and asked if he wanted to rock with me for a few minutes. He grinned sheepishly and happily climbed into my lap. I covered him with a blanket just like I’d been doing his new little sister.

And rocked my sweet boy.

My 6 year old daughter walked in during the rocking and said, “What? I didn’t know you were rocking him! But, I want to be rocked!”

So guess what?

Yep, rocked her too, later after the 4 year old and after rocking the 3 year old to sleep.

 I half-way expected the 8 year old to walk in and say he wanted to be rocked!

These two things I know for sure: They are not too big to be rocked, and, if it ends up that a good portion of my days are spent rocking children, then I can think of no better way to use the time God has given me on this earth!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Laughing on a Friday

I'm going to an adoption conference on Saturday.  It will be my husband's first full day alone with all 4 kids, he really may not survive!

We traveled to a different adoption conference last October.  Let me just stop right here and say, y'all know I love me some adoption, right?  I mean I have adopted a child, can talk adoption all day, love adoption stories, and really LOVE every other adoptive parent I've ever met!

But, I don't know about this!  My husband and I saw this vehicle in the parking lot at the adoption conference in October and we had to laugh, and point, and snap a couple pictures:

 From left to right, you've got Guatemala, Ethiopia, United States, South Korea, and China all with hearts.  I'm going to give this family the benefit of the doubt and say they did not set out on a mission to collect a child from each of the main adoption countries of the past 10 years as if they are trinkets, but really that car display kinda makes it seem like that! 


Okay, moving on.

How cute are these two?!!

They both love hugs and are kindred spirits in this regard, and the hugging thing is a daily occurrence between those two but for some reason every time they hug, Little Girl insists I take a "Photo!  Photo!"

My girlies and I did some toenails!  

The 6 year old is all about alternating color patterns on her toes.  I think I should charge more for such a high-maintenance pedicure! 


I was cleaning out my closet last weekend and I overheard the following conversation:

4 year old son:  "Dad, Can I have Starbucks now?"
my husband:  "Huh?"
 4 year old son:  "Starbucks! Mommy said I could have Starbucks after lunch!"
My husband:  "I have no idea what you are talking about."
4 year old son:  "DAD! Yes, you do know!  STARBUCKS!"

I was snickering because I totally knew what my 4 year old was really saying, but it was way too entertaining to step in.  Besides, I had managed to sneak away and actually begin to get something accomplished in a household where somebody needs me exactly every 8.5 seconds, so no way was I leaving my hiding spot!

Finally the 4 year old went and got what he was talking about and brought it to my husband. 

4 year old son:  "These! Starbucks.  Can I eat these?"
My husband:  "Starburst!  Starburst, Son!  They're called Starburst!  Yes you can eat them." 


Happy Friday, Friends 

Find more Friday Fragments.
Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bonding and Attachment For Real (Food and Nutrition)

In case you missed it, here is a link to the introduction to this series and to Part1: Sleep

Just remember, this series is meant to convey our experiences with these topics and parenting a newly adopted 3 year old from Ethiopia.  This series is not meant to be taken as expert advice!  With that, I'm going to jump right into part 2.

Part 2:  Food and Nutrition

Food, like sleep, is a hot topic in pre-adoption training.  Food is often a battleground for young children, adopted or not.  But, there are many issues adopted children can face that are a result of their experiences with food prior to being adopted.

I'll highlight a few.  Children who have known true hunger can hoard food (like you find it stuffed way back under their bed) or consume such large quantities that they make themselves sick.  Children who were only fed pureed food well beyond baby years may have a hyper-sensitive gag reflex with solid food.  Children who were force fed can bring tons of trauma feelings with them to the table, they expect eating to be a negative experience.  And children who are desperate to exert some control in their out of control world, can refuse to eat at all, or only eat certain, specific foods.

As far as food issues go, we've been very, very thankful to not have a lot of problems there.  Little girl has eaten pretty well since day 1.  She really likes meat, and isn't too crazy about bread, which is different from my biological kids who are the opposite!  However, there are some things we've done to try to help our new daughter with bonding and attachment that relate to food and nutrition. 

The book The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family highlights research that suggests omega-3 supplements can reduce symptoms of anxiety, impulsivity, inattention, cognitive problems, and learning problems in children.  And that kids on the supplements in the studies were less emotionally volatile.

I haven't heard any risks of taking omega-3.  I had a doctor recommend I start taking them several months ago and said she also gives her kids the children's version because she thinks it helps them ward off colds and common sicknesses.  I started taking the adult fish oil capsules and giving my kids children's omega-3 vitamins a few months ago (in addition to the multivitamin they were already getting), and we have all had a lot fewer colds this winter season!

I started our new little girl out on the multivitamin and omega-3 vitamin right after we got home with her. 

Here's a picture of the kind I found that my kids will happily eat.  It's made by L'il Critters.  I'm not crazy about the sugar-coating, but it does mean my kid will chew them up and at least there are no artificial colorings or flavors.

My thought on the omega-3 is why not cover our bases?  In parenting a child with extra challenges, if there's a chance an over-the-counter supplement can help regulate behavior, I want to go ahead and throw that advantage in our court!

Also in the book The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family, they discuss regular snacks. Karyn Purvis (one of the authors) is a big proponent of food every 2 hours and focusing on high-protein snacks to help regulate the body chemistry of your children.

This is another food strategy I've implemented, making sure Little Girl has regular snacks and trying to work in as much protein as possible -- hummus, beef jerky, lunch meat, turkey pepperoni, edamame, roasted chickpeas, yogurt, nuts (I do have an older child with a peanut allergy but thankfully she can be around people eating them without issue, just can't eat them herself).

Something else I've done as far as food and bonding is to use food to our advantage whenever possible.  Little Girl didn't really like my husband the first few days (she hadn't had any male caregivers at the orphanage), so to facilitate her opening up to him, each time we were going to give her one of the chocolates we took to Ethiopia as a dessert or treat, I'd have my husband be the one to give it to her.  That way she had a positive, happy thing coming from him!  

Also, once home, she figured out she really liked Ritz crackers.  Instead of giving her a bowlful of 6 or so crackers, I'd give them to her 1 at a time.  This way, it allowed for more positive interactions between she and I.  She'd come to me to ask for a "Boos-Coos" (her word for cracker back then, now she says "cracker"), I'd smile and say "Sure!", hand her the cracker while looking her in the eyes.  Then I'd say, "Can you say, 'thank you'?"  Thank you was actually one of the first English things she started saying, so she'd say "Tank ou." And it really is the cutest thing!  I'd say, "It's so nice to say thank you!"  all while smiling right at her little face, sometimes even working in a little pat on her shoulder or arm for being so sweet.

You see?  Warm, positive, happy interaction.  That in the early phases of parenting your adopted child is golden, my friends!  No way was I going to miss out on repeating that little interchange 8 or 9 times during the 1 snack by giving her several crackers at once!

Regressing children back to bottles and spoon feeding is recommended by many experts to help bond with an adopted child.  I didn't do the bottle thing, but she has been open to spoon-feeding some and I do it occasionally, often at breakfast because it's easy with oatmeal or cereal and she's sleepy at those times and more likely to let me help her.

Last, as far as food, our daughter has a history of malnutrition.  She caught up a lot weight-wise while she was in the care of our adoption agency for her last 13 months in Ethiopia, but before that we believe she likely did not get enough to eat.  Knowing that, I do not refuse her food if she asks for it.  Now I don't always give her the specific food she wants, like chocolate.  But, I will always give her something -- carrots, nuts, raisins, beef jerky are pretty much things she can always have even 5 minutes before dinner.  This is different than I've done with my biological children.  With them, I have said, "Sorry, it's not snack time." to keep them from just grazing all day long and forcing me into a constant state of preparing or cleaning up from food.  But, again, knowing my daughter's history and wanting to help her gain the trust that food will always be available, I am doing this different with her.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Dearest Son,

Today you, my very first baby, turned 9. Nine! How is it possible?

I'm not sure it feels like yesterday exactly, but recently for sure, you were that beautiful, squishy, completely helpless baby!  And now here you are, half-way to 18, to adulthood!

I can't help thinking about all the things we still want to teach you before you grow up and leave home.

I marvel at all the ways you've changed over the years, how grown up you're getting!  I also wonder how you'll ever survive on your own, since the everyday details of life, like where you put your shoes, are often overlooked as you ponder deeper things like the periodic table!

I've made it a mission to prepare you to be able to cook a meal, scrub stains out of clothes, and pick up your things, you know as my gift to your future wife.  It's a great challenge I often feel I'm losing!  You and I’ve made a deal that each time I pick up your clothes from the floor of your room, you owe me a dollar. The deal’s been on for about 2 weeks now and I think I’ve earned over $10. At this rate, your daddy and I may be able to retire some day afterall!

You have always challenged us as parents, quite the strong-willed child, and you can exasperate us to no end at times, but then it shows up, the goodness and the sweetness.  The kid that brings us large portions of his allowance to "help take care of the orphans in Ethiopia".  The "Mom, thank you for all the work you do around here," comment that comes out of the blue!

Last night as I was laying out all the kids' clothes for this morning, I asked you, “What’s your favorite shirt? What shirt would you most like to wear to school on your birthday?” You rummaged through your closet and came out with the monster shirt I made for you and a matching one for your brother over a year ago and said, “This one. This one is my favorite because you made it for me.”

Melt my heart. One day shy of 9 years old and he says his favorite shirt is the one his mama made for him!

And I think even if you never get it right, the putting your shoes on the shelf and hanging up your backpack and jacket rather than throwing them down wherever, or the ability to use utensils reliably - oh how many times must we remind you, "Rice is never, ever eaten with your fingers?!" - that it’s okay because the things that truly matter, you have right.

You love Jesus in a way that tells me you just may follow Him wherever He leads you in life, which simultaneously delights and scares me as a mother, knowing that may not always mean comfort or the easy road for your life.  Although it will be tough to watch you navigate difficult paths, your Daddy and I know well the blessing and joy you'll find right in the midst of the hard.

You come out of school and immediately wrap an arm around the shoulder of your 4 year old brother. The two of you walk together talking over the day and even if we stop off at the playground and you see your best friend, you don’t shoo your little brother away but include him right in with your big friends!  Other mothers comment on how sweet it is and I can only nod, taking no credit, because it's just you, it's who you are.

 This past year brought you smack dab into the middle of seas of orphans in Ethiopia. Your courage in greeting those children, shaking hands, hugging them, playing with them when you could have shrunk back in shyness, was amazing, filled me with more pride than your stellar math and science grades ever will (although those are important accomplishments, too)!

And even more awesome, the way you embraced one small orphan as your beloved sister!  You've always been on-board with enthusiasm about our adoption journey, even when we detailed the sacrifices we'd make as a family to add another child in that way.

I am so proud to be able to call you my son!  I can't wait to see what God has in store for your life!

Your biggest fan

P.S.  I am serious, though, about never getting a 2nd date with a girl if you take her to dinner and eat your rice with your fingers!  Good thing we have several years before dating is an issue!

Find more Wordful Wednesday here and Thankful Thursday here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Brussel Sprouts for dinner!

On Friday I told the story about my 4 year old son begging me to make brussel sprouts because we had them 11 months ago and he loved them, well, I finally remembered to get some at the store.

I made them for dinner tonight.

Here's my little guy before the meal enthusiastically saying, "Raise your hand if you love brussel sprouts!"

Nobody else raised their hand except him.

My 8 year old's reaction to the brussel sprouts, "Yep, 11 months later and still gross!"

My 3 year old's reaction, "Disgusting!"

And the 4 year old who begged and begged for them?

Sadly 11 months has changed his taste buds.  He didn't like them!

The good news is I never have to make them again.  The bad news is that my kitchen will likely smell like brussel sprouts for the next 11 months!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Barbie and I don't get along

Little Girl got a Princess Tiana Barbie doll for Valentine's day.  And her strapless dress will not stay up!  

I took this picture while she was lying flat, because you hold her upright, that dress slips down and she's flashing you!  It's so obscene I talked my daughter out of taking the doll with us to the grocery store.  Really, I have no idea why I keep getting my girls Barbies, Barbie and I have tons of issues, irreconcilable differences, maybe!

I made brussel sprouts once for dinner 11 months ago.  The rest of the family didn't like them, my then 3 year old son really did, though, and even had seconds!  Of brussel sprouts!

Fast forward to this past week, he suddenly mentions to me that we haven't had brussel sprouts in a long time.  I say, "You're right.  And you liked them.  I'll have to make them for you again soon."  But, when I go to the grocery store I totally forget about the brussel sprouts.  And now for the past 3 nights when I'm making dinner, my 4 year old has asked if we're having brussel sprouts.  He's always upset when I say "no".  Tonight he lamented, "You NEVER make me brussel sprouts!"

Seriously, it's like I'm in some sort of twilight zone!  I thought kids whined about their mom making them eat brussel sprouts.  But not my kid, he whines about me not making him brussel sprouts!!

And how is it exactly that my 4 year old guy remembers eating brussel sprouts when we haven't had them in 11 months?!!

A few people have said to me recently, "I don't know how you do it with 4 kids.  I'm struggling with just 2 kids!"

My secret:

Older siblings are the BEST entertainment for little ones!

When my oldest kid was 3, there was nobody to read to him during the day except me!


Happy Friday!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bonding and Attachment For Real (Sleep)

The problem about blogging an introduction to a series is that then you have to actually write the series some day!

In case you missed the into. you can read it here, but to summarize this series on bonding and attachment is not meant to be taken as expert advice or a prescription for how you should do things with your adopted child, there are some true experts out there with work I highly recommend you study before and after adopting a child.  This series is just my attempt to throw out there into the lake of adoption stories, our experience.

So, here it is,

Part 1: Sleep 

Sleep is a hot topic in adoption books and training. There's all kinds of stuff about why sleep may be a hard issue for an adopted child. To get really basic, the children often have trouble with sleep because they do not feel safe yet in their new environment and to go to sleep is to put yourself in a very vulnerable position.

Totally understandable.

I was prepared to rock this new child as long as she needed, co-sleep if she wanted, respond to her cries quickly at all hours of the night to build trust that I was there for her.

But, what I wasn't prepared for was the actuality of a child who didn't want to sleep and fought it like the devil.

The week we were in Ethiopia with our new 3 year old daughter, we had to lock the door to our guesthouse room before getting out pajamas or anything else that would clue our daughter into the fact that bedtime was coming because she'd run out of the room otherwise.  The first few nights it took several minutes to get past the mad and get to a point where she'd let me hold her.  But she would, eventually let me walk around the room carrying her, then she'd get tired and lay her head on my shoulder, and finally fall asleep in my arms and transfer easily into the bed where she slept with my husband and me.  If at any point during the walking her around the room process before she fell asleep, I tried to sit down with her, she'd begin screaming and stand up in my lap, attempting to pull me up with her!  So carry her around some more I did, even when my arms got very tired.

Once we got home, Little Girl had keen radar to when we might be trying to get her to go to sleep and although she wanted us to hold her most of the daytime, once it was bedtime she just wanted to run around and did not want us carrying her or rocking her.

So, here was my issue.  I knew she needed sleep.  I've parented 3 other 3 year old children and know that their behavior gets worse when they haven't had enough sleep.  I could observe Little Girl's behavior become more hyper and reved up the more tired she got, and knew I needed to help her calm down and rest.  

But how?  

She didn't want to be rocked or held.  If I put her in the bed and laid next to her she fought to get out of the bed.  I certainly wasn't going to shut her in a room to "cry it out" alone. 

I actually entertained the idea of just letting Little Girl do what she wanted, which was play with toys in the playroom and just wait until she tuckered out on her own, then I'd put her to bed.  But this completely child-led parenting technique didn't feel right either.  

I scoured the multitude of adoption and attachment books I had trying to find practical help about just what exactly I should do!  I did not find anything specific, just general things about creating a calm environment and being understanding about why sleep is an issue -- Um, okay, got those things, but she's still not asleep!!!

What I ended up doing felt very wrong at the time, but looking back it was the best decision and led to me being more bonded with my daughter.

I decided she had two choices.  Rock with me in the rocking chair or stay in her bed.  Neither scenario was I going to leave her side.

Here's how it played out:

After the bedtime routine of bath, lotion, jammies, book, soft music, I'd pick her up and sit with her in the rocking chair.  She'd cry and fight to get down to the point that I really couldn't hold her.  So I'd say, "Okay, you don't want to be rocked, then you need to be in your bed."  And I'd lay her down in her bed and stand right next to the bed.  She would freak out about being put in bed and immediately stand up reaching out her arms for me to pick her up.

I would immediately pick her up and go back to the rocking chair to rock her.  She'd cry and fight to get down.  I'd remind her of the choices, "Rock or Bed" and we'd repeat the whole scenario several times over until Little Girl would finally relax against me and let me rock her to sleep.

This went on for a week or two (funny how quickly you forget, kinda like childbirth!) but each night we'd have fewer iterations and it would take less time for her to give in, and then she got where she wouldn't fight the rocking at all!

So, that's where we are now.  Happily rocking for 10 to 20 minutes before she falls asleep with no fighting at all.  (That 10 to 20 minutes of rocking turns into 90 to 120 minutes of rocking if Little Girl takes a nap of even just a few minutes during the day, but my reluctantly giving up naptime, which I feel sure is the only way I survived my other children being 3 years old, is a whole 'nother post!)

She sleeps about half the night in her bed in the room she shares with her 6 year old sister and at some point in the middle of the night each night she wakes up and I let her sleep the rest of the night in bed with my husband and me.  

We didn't co-sleep at all with our 3 biological children (maybe just a couple times when they were really sick), so this is new for us and I have to say, selfishly, I'm not a big fan!  I am actually surprised with myself for feeling this way after waiting so long for this little girl to come home, but after holding her much of the day I just want to sleep without her hanging on my neck or pushing her little feet into my back.  But, I know she needs the extra closeness and we're making up for lost time, critical snuggles she may not have gotten as an infant!  So, I do it, knowing it's best for her, knowing that someday she'll grow up and I'll miss these nights.  But, I also shamelessly scooch her closer to my husband's side of the bed throughout the night!

A few ending thoughts:

We played music while in Ethiopia to get our daughter to sleep easier and have continued it at home at bedtime, the same music. 

So guess what?  I'm still listening to Christmas music every night when I rock her!!!

My advice to anyone going after us on the journey -- pick some timeless music!

And last, I have no idea why it took me a few weeks to think of this.  But, to help my daughter calm more easily at bedtime, I now cover her up with a blanket when I rock her.   Kind of like swaddling a newborn, only the 3 year old version, where the blanket's just tucked around her whole body, with her head sticking out.  I can almost instantly feel her body relax when I cover her with a soft blanket. 

I am sharing our sleep story with the hope that our experience might just help one other family while they're in the trenches of parenting a newly adopted child.  I know in those moments where Little Girl was screaming and I kept thinking, "I'm making her miserable.    This child has been through so much, shouldn't I just do everything I can to keep her happy?  She doesn't want to be rocked!  I'm forcing my child to let me rock her, how crazy is that?!"  it would have been a blessing to see the other side, to know this was okay, that other families had been through this, that it would get better.

I'm thankful for all the progress we've already seen with our new little girl when it's really only been a couple months, for all the ways God is healing her! 

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Valentine's Aftermath

If you ignore the shirt sleeve-chewing 4 year old, this is a fairly good picture of my kids on Valentine's Day 2012.

That 4 year old really had me laughing on Sunday as we worked on the Valentines for his class.  He wrote his name on each one and he typically writes the letter "E" at the end of his name with way too many horizontal lines.  So, I thought I'd use the repetition of writing his name 14 times in a row to really work on getting the "E" right.  I said, "Okay, 1, 2, 3 lines and you're done!" as he wrote the "E".  Then he said, "I know, but I really like drawing lines!"

And, who could argue with that?  Honestly, I know if he were my 1st child at age 4 I'd have insisted he do it correctly, but the blessing of being the 3rd child is that I'm like, "You know what that 'E' is the cutest thing, you just go on and make it like that."  And in my head I'm thinking, "It's not like he'll go off to college still making his "E" like that, right???"

I made red velvet cake balls for my kids' teachers.  There were some left-over.  There is a reason I only make these once a year, I'm usually pretty good with food temptation, but these are way too good. I can't resist!

A certain little girl definitely enjoyed her first Valentine's day, as evidenced by the chocolate on her shirt!  She didn't eat a ton of candy, but apparently it was too much as evidenced by the colossal tantrum this afternoon.

And now in the aftermath of Valentine's, every surface in my house pretty much looks like this:

Valentine's paraphernalia from 3 different classrooms (at least the Super Hero Bible is out in the midst of the chaos)!  I think we'll just have to order a dumpster for the driveway once I have 4 kids in school!

Monday, February 13, 2012


Love that I get to see this cute face all the time in person rather than just in pictures like a couple months ago!

Love that after nearly 2 months, I finally got her wearing feety pajamas!  Little Girl would have nothing to do with them the first several nights, and I gave up, but we've had a cold spell and the other kids were wearing theirs, so I thought I'd try again.  Guess what?  She likes them!  Hooray!  Now, just to talk the almost 9 year old into some footed pajamas!

Love that my 4 year old and 6 year old wanted to share some of their own money from their money jars with their little sister because she didn't have as much in her jar as they did (they've been saving their allowance for a while and she's only lived with us a couple months!).  Without her even knowing they generously added to her jar!

Love having an eager baking assistant!  After a trip to Target (hence the bags in the background, and no, I'm not compensated to endorse Target, but Target is welcome to send me some store credit for displaying their brand!), I began work on some red velvet cake balls.  Wow, that red velvet cake batter is really red!

Love this Bible verse and need to be in constant prayer that I can show love like this and be able to teach my children to love like this (especially the part about demanding its own way):

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." 1 Cor 13:4-7

Thursday, February 9, 2012

If this sounds incoherent, just know I took all 4 of my children to the dentist today!

One night this week I was doing the last minute dinner preparations, my husband had just gotten home from work, and my 3 youngest were having a parade throughout the house.  A parade where they all marched and played loud instruments!  The parade circled through the kitchen several times.  It was very cute, so I couldn't really complain about all the loud!  My oldest child was hollering (to be heard over the parade music), "What about my brain?!!!  Did you print out the brain picture I need for my book report project?!!!  I need a brain!!!!"  The dog, meanwhile, had her front paws up on the kitchen counter, trying to help herself to dinner (Did I mention we're considering remedial dog training for our 1 year old, hopelessly terrible dog?  Maybe even the kind where you send them away for a week or two!).

My husband and I looked at each other at the same time and just laughed!  I mean, THE CHAOS!!  And he said something about, "People just have no idea the crazy that goes on around here!"  Which would be true, except I write about some of it on my blog for all the world to read!


Speaking of crazy, today, I took all 4 of my children to the dentist for check-ups.  It was every bit as unfun as you might imagine!

My 3 older kids were due for a check-up in mid-January, I'd been putting it off, but couldn't feel good about delaying it any longer.  Also, our new daughter needed to have a first ever dentist appointment to make sure everything seemed okay with her teeth.

I could have just made the appointment for my older 3 kids and waited a little while longer before doing Littlest Girl.  But, the problems with that option were that we're not leaving Littlest Girl with babysitters yet, so she'd still have to go with me to take the other 3 to the dentist, and if she's going to be there anyway why not just have her looked at.  Besides, having kids close in age, I've seen the magic of a younger sibling watching an older sibling get a shot/dental exam/hair cut and survive it and the younger child then be able to do it themselves without pitching a fit!

I was not totally nuts, though.  I did have the forethought to think that maybe this dentist visit with all 4 kids and it being the 1st one for our new daughter might be too much for me to handle by myself, so I made my husband leave work to meet me there.  

Definitely a good idea!  First there was the 55 minute wait before even being called back (Ask me how close I was to leaving and never going back to that dentist at minute 54?) Then it was like a 4 ring circus with them having one kid go to this room for x-rays, one in this chair for a cleaning, one in this chair for the dentist to examine and discuss findings with parent, and one playing in the corner toy area waiting their turn.

Did I mention there's an electric train that runs on a track throughout the ceiling of the office, it goes through all the rooms?  Really it's very cool, but after 2 hours of being in that crazy place with that train flying around and around and around, I began to feel like I needed a sedative!

The good news, 4 kids and not 1 cavity!  And Littlest Girl sat happily in the chair to be examined which I didn't expect, apparently she got all her tantrums out of her system in the waiting room!  Still debating a dentist switch over the long wait when I had an appointment, but reminding myself to be thankful for the medical and dental care we have here in the U.S. that is not available in Ethiopia!


I had a hunch these two would be the best of friends once we got past some sharing issues.  My 4 year old and my 3 year old:


Elementary school "Breakfast With Mom" today brought back memories of my 1st year, when my oldest child was a kindergartener, I made the rookie mistake of actually buying the cafeteria breakfast for us to eat.  Wow, so gross!!  And then I looked around and all the moms with older kids had stopped and gotten donuts or fast food breakfast for themselves and their kids!  So, this has now become the one and only school day of the year where my kids get donuts for breakfast.  And I've made it a public service project to warn new kindergarten moms that despite the advertising that you come eat breakfast at the school with your kid(s) on this special day, really, you must pick up breakfast on the way and bring it to eat in the decorated cafeteria, trust me!


Another sweet moment from the week:

My 6 year old daughter is often making me cards even when there is no occasion.  This time she set it up in my bedroom and called me in to see.  Her cards usually have a picture of she and I together on them.  And we're always smiling with flowers or butterflies around.  It makes me so happy that she views us like that!  Praise God when she's drawing that she isn't dwelling on the times I was grouchy with her or the time recently when it wasn't butterflies but tons of fruit flies buzzing around us in our kitchen because someone had left the backdoor open for much of an afternoon!


Happy Friday, Friends!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bonding and Attachment For Real (An Intro.)

Like so many other aspects of parenting, I was more of an expert on bonding and attachment with adopted children before actually mothering my newly adopted daughter. 

Before taking custody of our new daughter I attended a 6 week long course at a local church taught by a therapist trained in Theraplay (a true bonding expert), read tons of books, went to a 2 day training workshop offered by our adoption agency on older child (non-infant) adoption, watched nearly all the Karyn Purvis DVDs, participated in 4 adoption conferences, and all that is in addition to the training required by our adoption agency! 

I thought I knew some stuff. 

I will say the things I learned were all very helpful and eye-opening. I'm glad I did the extra training and learned so much that has been useful now as an adoptive parent. But, in my day to day existence, I find myself wanting more practical help. Like, I think, "Okay, I get why this is important, but how do I implement it in real life with my 3 year old?"  I am often questioning in my head if I'm doing things right and wondering just what Karyn Purvis would do if she were here right now in this situation! 

But some how, some way, by the grace of God, bonding and attachment is happening.  It's a beautiful thing to realize the progress we've made in less than 2 months time!

With the disclaimer that I am not an expert, and our daughter has been home less than 2 months, so I have no idea how things will go in the long run, I'm going to share some of my real life experiences with the hope that maybe someone else will benefit from hearing it.

I will start with sleep -- a popular topic in adoption books, and an issue near and dear to every parent's heart -- and share how it's gone for us these past several weeks, what's worked for us and what hasn't.

Just, not today, because I need to go get some sleep before an early date with my 2 oldest kids.  It's Breakfast with Mom at the elementary school.

But, stay tuned, next week, maybe, I'll get Part 1 of this series posted!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Conquering Laundry Mountain

I did approximately 4.4 billion loads of wash today.  Okay, not really, but I lost count it was so many.  My washer was going pretty much all day.

I'm usually a load or two per day kind of person, you know so I don't ever have a day where there's tons to deal with, but I'm not sure what happened, it's like I blinked and 5 days had passed without much laundry being done (any?).  So I had somewhere between 5 and 10 loads to catch up on.

When I say I "did" loads of wash today, I mean I got them into the washer, soap added, washer started, and through the dryer.  Then I just threw each load onto the couch to fold and put away later.

Hence laundry mountain.

It turns out my children's idea of conquering laundry mountain is not the same as mine.

They just wanted to climb it!

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

From 3 to 4 Kids

So, my party-line now when asked, and it's true, as far as numbers go, going from 3 kids to 4 kids has not seemed as hard as the change from 2 to 3 kids was for us.

Now this newest child is adopted from Ethiopia, and joining our family at age 3, rather than newborn, so there are a lot of challenges associated with all that.  But, I'm just talking numbers of children here.  

To us 4 is a lot, but the good news is that 3 kids felt like a lot, too, so 4 is not that different.  It's loud and chaotic and messy, but it was before the 4th child, too!

However, that being said, as a mom, each time we've added a new child to our family, there has been the worry for me of, "Will there be enough attention to go around?"

Sometimes it feels like the answer to that question is "no".  I end some days wishing I'd had more one-on-one time with a particular child.  My lap is never big enough at story time for all the children who want to sit there.  My children often have to be told to wait their turn to talk to me because a sibling already has my attention.

But, when the guilt rolls over me, and I feel inadequate, I can cling to the truth that God multiplies what little we offer.  His math is not conformed to our multiplication tables or addition and subtraction rules.  In Mark 6, God takes 5 loaves and 2 fish and feeds 5,000 people! 

In Mark 6:42 it says, "And they all ate and were satisfied."  So, they didn't just eat, they ate enough to be satisfied.  AND there were even left-overs!  Oh how this mama loves a meal with some left-overs!

The God that did that New Testament miracle is still in power today!

No matter how many kids I have I'm going to fall short every single day, so I'm praying for God to fill in the gaps for my children.  I'm grateful to know He can!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.