Sunday, September 30, 2012

Looking Back : 09/30/2011 "Gotcha Day"

It's a special day for our family today.

It's Alethia's "Gotcha Day"!

This day last year we walked into the babies home as a family of 5, and left as a family of 6.

We were learning that God had already filled our hearts with enough love...enough love to walk in obedience, enough love to overcome any doubt and fears that tried to creep in, enough love to love MORE!

As I said yesterday, some of these posts I've been going back to read are sprinkled with details that I'd forgotten, but there are many snapshots that are forever engrained in my mind.

Like the trip back to the guesthouse from picking up Shabila.  She sat in my lap the entire way.  Close.  Sweating.  Timid.  Scared.  Then she fell asleep.  I couldn't keep my eyes off of her.  This tiny little girl in my arms.  We'd been working so hard to get to her.  And now, now she was sleeping in my arms.  She was BEAUTIFUL.  And she was MINE!

Like the moment Areyna began to sing a familiar song in Lugandan and Shabila quickly looked up at her, as if realizing that she had finally found someone safe.  As Rainy continued to sing, Shabila began to scoot closer and closer to Areyna and gently began to hold her hand.  Our first breakthrough:)
The moment our eyes first met

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Looking Back : 09/29/2011

This time last year we were settling into the guesthouse (finally) and desperately trying to contain our excitement and get some rest, because the next day was the day we were going to get Shabila!

Friday, September 28, 2012

The View From Here

This is where Areyna spends the majority of her afternoons

on a swing


with her iPod

listening to "Jesus music"

you may even catch her with her hands raised in praise

I wonder what her and God talk about:)

Friday Free-For-All

I've been trying to run a 5k at a decent pace for several weeks now.  My knee/hip flexor problems from years of soccer have only gotten worse over the years.  It's beyond frustrating, but then I calm myself down by changing my least I can get out and lightly jog (for about a mile) or walk around the park.  For that I am thankful.  But it would still be nice to be able to really work up a sweat.  While Josh was out last week he bought me some of this athletic tape to try out.  It is fabulous.  That is, until it begins to unstick and fall off!  I've been making it to about 2 miles at a GREAT pace, which hasn't happened in years, but then the tape falls off and my knee begins screaming in protest...I'm up for suggestions or advice:)

This time last year we had just made an emergency landing BACK in London.  I am beyond thankful for the moments we captured on our blog from our in-country experience!  Every day I've been going back and reading what happened a year ago that day and have been flooded with emotions and reading details we had forgotten.  If you have never been through an adoption you may not understand quite what we are going through.  We have our happy ending.  In fact, she is outside swinging with her sister, singing songs at the top of her lungs!  I keep asking myself why I have been on the verge of depression all week or why I can't get Uganda off of my mind when she IS here.  I can't explain what we are feeling.  It just is what it is.  I've not really communicated with the kids about the significance of the past few days, but Uganda has clearly been on their minds as well.  Cai and Alethia have been talking about past experiences from their time together in "Aphika".  Smells and sights have been reminders to Rainy and Zeke as well!


Josh and I have had the sweetest times this week after the kids decide to stay in their rooms and call it a night.  We find ourselves talking and laughing way into the night about nothing.  About everything.  Last night it was after 1am when we decided that "for real, we're going to bed":)  6:15 comes early, and my jogging legs feel like led, but it's been SO worth it.  I can't wait to grow old with him!

Happy Friday, ya'll!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Looking Back : 9/27/2011

We were lounging around in a family room for 14 hours in the London airport this time last year...

We were learning flexibility, patience and how to sleep on the floor in an airport:)

Lessons From The Classroom - Feel, See, Taste

We had a tasty surprise for the Colony in school last week.

I got a kitchen pan and placed a layer of sugar on the bottom.

We made shapes, numbers and letters in the sugar for the next hour and a half!

You can erase the letters by gently shaking the pan like you are sifting for gold.

It was a hit for sure.

It didn't hurt that the prize for a "good try" was a sugary treat:)

The View From Here

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Looking Back

My stomach is in knots.

From excitement for sure, but mostly because of the unknown that awaits us.

Our lives are about to forever change.

I check the luggage again.

Check a few more things off of my list.

Try to keep all my kids' "stuff" together for the flight.  (Why is it that sippy cups are always around when you don't need them, but as soon as you are ready to walk out the door it's as if they have grown legs and disappeared!)

Weigh the luggage again.



Worry (just a little;).


Is it the pregnancy?  Possibly.

It's the unknown again.

It's the built-up excitement.

It's the overwhelming thought of having 3 children in the air with us for hours on end.

It's the overwhelming realization that we are going to be going from 3 to 4 in just a matter of time now...and then from 4 to 5 shortly after...WHAT WAS GOD THINKING?!

Then the questions start circulating.

Will she be scared?

Will she scream to go back to the familiar arms of the Aunties who have loved her since she was just a few months old?

Will she beg to be placed back in her familiar bed, in a crammed room with dozens of other children, instead of her cot next to her new sister?

Will she want to call me mommy?

This is going to be GREAT!

Finally, on our way!

It seems as though we've been waiting forever!

All the other stories I've read have the families home within 5-6 weeks.

I can TOTALLY do this!

Oh gosh...nauseous...

I can't do this!

Check the list again.

Check the luggage again.


Adoption is such a foreign, strange, beautiful thing.


She isn't ours.  She WILL BE ours.  She IS ours.

What if I accidentally make her feel singled out because I'm loving on her too much?  What will the other kids think?  What if I don't love her enough?  How DO you love a child who wasn't with you and then IS...

Only three more hours until we leave for the airport.

Repeat above scenario a half-dozen more times...

October 2010

Up until now this is all I've known.


But now...
Summer 2012

now I know SO MUCH MORE!

I know her favorite color is orange.
I know that she wants LONG hair.
I know she loves high heels.
I know that everything in her past happened "last night".
I know that when she says "another one" it comes out as "zchuwuzchuone" and it is the CUTEST thing ever!
I know she loves to be the one in charge during imaginative play.  Her siblings have deemed her queen of the fairies and can make (or NOT make) any one of them a fairy at any given time.
I know she is dangerously allergic to fire ants.
I know she doesn't like carrots.
I know she loves to be read to.
I know that she adores her big sister, handles her oldest brother, plays so sweet with her middle brother and absolutely LOVES her baby brother.
I know she can buckle herself into her car seat...when she wants to, ha!
I know she has a hefty set of lungs!:)

I know lots of things about my girl.  MY girl.

As I think back about all the uncertainty that awaited us this day last year I still get butterflies of nervousness in my stomach.  I get that tinge of desperation in my gut.  I get those feelings of inadequacy swimming around in my head.

If only I would have known then what I know now.  The process, the set backs, the seemingly impossible...but would I really be where I am now?

I'm just warning you, there are probably going to be lots of posts like this one.  The past few weeks have been very emotional for me.  Partly because I feel as though I am living it all over again as we wait not-so-patiently to bring your friend/cousin home.  Thinking back.  A lot of "this time last year"s.  And they are just beginning.

But without the "this time last year"s we couldn't have the NOW!

And the NOW is what I am SO grateful for, today!

We are no longer "on our way to bringing you home".  You ARE home, baby!
Love forever and always,

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

Be Careful Little Mouth

We are forever talking to our kids about the weight of our words, aren't we?

I wonder, though, if I am exemplifying the standard or just spouting off this command like a broken record. I think a lot of times I get so frustrated with the way my children speak to or about one another, with little consideration about what I am speaking, myself.

In order to do this I have to constantly filter the words spoken to my husband/girlfriends/parents in front of my children, about my children.

Do my words:

  • speak encouragement about a struggle OR label my child with a struggle in a negative way
  • cause dissension between siblings
  • continuously give excuses for behavior
  • embarrass
  • isolate a child for being different OR cause unity within the family unit in spite of differences 
It's hard for those little ears to be careful what they hear when the mom standing within earshot of them is not being careful about what her little mouth is saying.

We don't have to sugar coat the hard days/seasons of parenthood, neither do we have to speak in a spiteful, negative way about our children.

Moms, we should be our kids' #1 fan!  Let's shout our love with cheering:)

And I repeat to myself again..."be careful little mouth what you say".

DIY - Custom Framing

We bought a couple beautiful paintings while we were in Uganda.

I had the best intentions of dropping them off at AC Moore
to get custom framed.

Yeah, that never happened.  But I really wanted to hang them.

So I found some extra frames around the house which were about the same size as the paintings.

Then I got some clear packaging tape.
I stretched the canvas as tight as I could and taped the sides down on the back of the frame.

It sounds pretty ghetto, but my friends couldn't even tell!

I didn't spend a penny:)

(Terrible photos, but you get the idea.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lessons From The Classroom - Shadows

Learning Together's Preschool class has been learning about shadows.

We decided to take it outside to make it a little more hands-on!

We each grabbed a piece of chalk and began tracing shadows.

Shadows of trees
Notice the form.
Who cares about the fact that chalk doesn't show up in grass
the fact that Alethia has totally missed the shadow outline, ha!
Shadows from bushes on the driveway
Notice Cai's cute (favorite) undies:)
Shadows of US
Notice how Cai still has his jammy shirt on.

We also found some shadows of power lines and from the roof
to measure the shadow movement throughout the day.
Now that was fun.
I'm pretty sure the kids thought that I was preforming some kind of magic:)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sticks and stones...

....may break some bones.

But mostly they are just meant to be played with!

Josh and I really enjoy creating fun environments for our kids to play in.

Our latest area is our "fenced in area" (go ahead and laugh Andrew:) for our chicken, that doesn't exist, ha!

We had worked on clearing it out a few months back, but it had since grown back over.  Those roots in there are stubborn.

So, with the beautiful weather, and a lovely family day we decided to work on it again, this time focusing on digging all the roots out.

We got to work.

About 30 minutes in and the creative wheels began turning in my head.

I confiscated the girls and headed to Wal-mart and Lowe's, leaving the men to do the dirty work:)

We came back with some plywood, and small decorations to create a house that has already gotten in more playtime than any other toy they possess!
Solar lamps to light up the way at night
Every house needs some flowers
Some citronella to keep the bugs away

Yes, I made the table and painted it with chalk paint.
Also, two boards to hang on the fence: one for chalk and the other for painting. 
Toy box to keep everything dry.
Fence hangings from the color samples in the painting area at Lowes:)

As you can tell they have been playing late into the night:)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The View From Here - Fall

cozy jammies, boots and playing outside in the dark

When The Memories Fade

A couple of weeks ago I asked Alethia what Masumba meant.

Masumba is Luganda for Pastor.

She replied with an innocent, "I don't know."

Later that week we saw a picture of one of her dearest friends from the Babies Home on Facebook.  He entered into his forever family while we were in Uganda so they got to spend many of their last days in Uganda together.  After pointing to the little boy in the picture and excitedly asking Alethia who that was, the blank stare and questioning facial expression was enough for me stop in my tracks.

I began to scroll down the Facebook page to more pictures of him, hoping to see the lightbulb go off in her head.


Finally, we got closer to the time we were all in Uganda together.  We saw one of the pictures of him with his new family in what was clearly a Ugandan backdrop and she lit up..."It's Cade!!!!"

I was so relieved that she remembered.

But heartbroken at the same time, because it took so long.

I guess I'm not allowed to be selective about her memories of the first three years of her life, but oh, how I would give anything to just gather up the GOOD memories for her to keep in her little box!

It's so sad to me that she just stares at us when we use any Luganda words now (besides Jangu, which means "come here" - for some reason Cai responds better to that command in Luganda! This word is used almost on a daily basis), or when we talk about someone from the babies home and she doesn't even respond.

I guess I should be happy that her whole world is beginning to be wrapped around memories of us!  That thrills me, it really does.

A part of me just wants her to be able to remember where she came from.

The Aunties who loved her so deeply.
Her friends in the Babies Home.
The provisions the Lord's hand provided in spite of her not having a family.
The beautiful landscape.
The language(s) she once knew.
The simple.
The generous.
The staff at the guesthouse.
The food.

This just means that we are going to have to be intentional about refreshing the memories of our time there together as we treasure the new memories we are making together.

But it is so beautiful to be reminded that the Lord is the past, in the present, no matter the memories...He is constant...His hand on her life is constant, and we will grow old reminding her of that!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Keeping With The Tradition

You may remember this post, from forever ago!

It's a "must see" 'cause it's so fun to look back at the kids at this stage
(and see all the different hairstyles my hubby had:)

Josh has always had special times in the morning with all his kids.
It's by far the biggest thing he looks forward to when we find out we're adding to the Colony.

It's kind of sad that he was never able to share these moments with Alethia
but it would be a bit awkward to see her cuddled up on her daddy's lap now,
chewing on highlighters, don't you think?

I just had to capture this moment as he closes out this sweet stage with our last.

I love the example he sets in a true relationship with Christ to our kids at such an early age!
Jude and his Daddy

Quiet time, coffee, cuddly colony member and slobbery highlighters...
What more could a man ask for.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The View From Here

Lessons From The Classroom

"Learning Together" School for the Via Colony has been in session for over a month now!

I can hardly believe it.

Areyna has done incredible.  I haven't had to fight her to do school once.  Okay, maybe once, but that's it:) It isn't uncommon for her to wake up in the morning and inform me that she has completed her school for the day in her bed before falling asleep the night before.  This goes against EVERYTHING inside of me.  I know it's silly, but in my head she is supposed to start at a specific time every day, sitting contently at her school desk as she works diligently on her work for the day.  But that isn't what motivates her to learn!  So, if you can't beat 'em, you might as well join 'em.  I went out and bought her one of those clip-on lights so she doesn't have to keep holding her flashlight.  SHE LOVES IT!  Hey, if it motivates her to read to Alethia on her own accord and excites her to teach her sister all about ranches, farms and how to count by 9's I'm all for it!

In fact, she has added to my teacher assistant help for the preschool and she is FANTASTIC!  The school board may replace Mrs. T if she doesn't step it up, ha!

Zeke is doing well.  I am realizing that he is going to need some extra help in some areas.  I've taken his Psychological report to the school behind us and he is officially registered as a visiting student in the WCPS system.  I'm really excited for him.

I have had SO much fun with Alethia and Cai.  They are SO eager to learn.  Everything in their little world consists of triangles, circles, letters and colors now.  I LOVE IT!  They can now recognize and write the first letter in their first names.  We have introduced A-F and numbers 1-4.

We talked about "family" and what it means to be a family.

The one thing I am having to wrap my mind around is the fact that this is, in fact, a homeschool.  It isn't traditional school, nor will it ever be.  I am so type-A that I have a hard time with the flexibility of homeschooling, as hard as that may seem for some of you.  So, I'm having to just let it go, realizing that my kids are not going be behind in life because we happen to do things differently from week to week.

It's okay.  I'm telling myself it's okay. It IS okay, right?!

Anyway, we are in the thick of it, loving it (most days) and am not running out of steam...yet!

So, we press on.

Here's to another month of learning together.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The View From Here

missing Uganda today

Friday Free-For-All

This week was confirmation that this mama will never be one who can reach her full mommy-ing capacity with a packed schedule.  Don't get me wrong, I work really well under pressure.  In fact, I kind of like the rush when life gets crazy, but when it is just therapy sessions, conferences at the school behind our house (more on that next week!) and other misc. outings and appointments I feel spent. Drained.  Downright grumpy, honestly.  Okay, so I'm working on it 'cause I KNOW that is just life, I'm just sayin'...

Every time I get around to posting about the next month in Jude's little life he goes and does something amazing.  A couple of months ago I posted that he wasn't interested in food at all.  Then, 2 days later he would ONLY be satisfied after 3 full meals a day!  Last month he went and grew 2 new teeth.  This month, just a day after his 7-month update he began talking.  Talking, people!  Bababamamaba and Babadababamada and a mixture of the two.  It is SO cute.  I like to turn the monitor up so I can hear the sweet sounds throughout the house.

Josh does love the sweet sounds, but he is scheming what consequences would be appropriate for this 7-month-old who refuses to obey and stay little:)

Last night we got home from rehearsal and Josh told me to go look on the front porch.  I was fully thinking I was going to walk out and see some endangered species in Rainy's bug catcher that he had caught for her.  Instead I saw these boxes!

We realized that the only thing keeping me from only having to go to the grocery store 2 times a month is the fresh produce.  We also like the idea of supporting our local farmers, but going to the farmer's market every week is just not practical.  So, we signed up for "The Produce Box".  I am SO excited!  Not only is it fresh, local, seasonal, produce, but it will force me to try new foods.  I've NEVER even bought some of these foods and am anxious to try the recipes that they gave me to go along with them.  Let me know if you are interested...we get a $10 credit for each person we refer:)

Weather...need I say more?!  We have all but lived outside this week!  The AC has been turned off and the windows have been opened.  I may have even gone out and purchased a couple of Pumpkin Spice candles to help move the fall along.  Hey, I missed my favorite season last year, I have a whole season to make up for!

I'm not sure what it is, but we always get "comments" when entering and exiting our chiropractor.  Several months ago a woman looked at me herding the colony out the door and she told me I needed more than a chiropractor, I needed a margarita...and a LARGE one, ha!  Last week we were keeping a couple of cousins and were walking in with our colony +2 and an elderly man looked at us and said, "Well, you just didn't know when to stop, did ya!"

I mean seriously, should you really say things like that to people you don't even know?:)

Well, I have one more conference before the week closes and then I'm home free...for at least 24 hours!

Happy Friday Ya'll!!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The View From Here - Lost

Waiting on Rainy
He is lost without his sister...

Only Through Your Own Experience

Everyone tries to prepare you:

  • he's only picking on you because he likes you
  • even the most popular girl feels lonely at times
  • don't give your heart away to just anybody
  • don't waste your time looking for contentment outside of Christ, you'll never find it
  • choose your friends wisely
  • you'll never be able to "afford" having kids. Don't wait to be financially ready, it will never happen
  • you'll look back and miss those smudges on the windows and legos on the floor
  • and you ONLY have one, just wait until you have to juggle two (or three or four or FIVE, etc.)
  • oh just WAIT until they are teenagers...
  • cherish those moments, they will be grown before you know it
  • God knows what He is doing. Your circumstances come as NO surprise to Him
But sometimes there are times in life where you just simply can't be prepared have to actually walk through it yourself.

I want so desperately for my kids to "get" God more than I did as a child.  More than I do now!  I want them to by-pass the teenage drama and make those wise choices the FIRST time.  I want them to grow up feeling completely content in who they are in Christ and in each season God has placed them in...

...or do I?

Sometimes I get frustrated with people who come to me, exasperated with the season they are in and I want to shake them and tell them "I told you so".  Then I remember back at the people who tried to warn me and probably wanted to shake me and tell me "I told you so".

I wouldn't be who I am today without those experiences.

Can we truly understand and grasp God's grace without these life experiences?

Can we really "treasure these moments" until we are in them ourselves?

Maybe we are meant to go through them to see first-hand who God is through them, grow in who He has made us and be better equipped to encourage others who are most definitely going to go through similar circumstances.

Sometimes it's hard for me to drop the "been there, done that" mentality when someone comes to me in a season I have already passed through, but isn't that one of the reasons we go through the things we go through?  To be a listening ear and to encourage? I need to stop standing on the sidelines and being the downer that just says, "Oh just wait!" or "I told you so"...

And that might mean just biting my tongue a little harder and holding off the "Well, when I..." stories a little bit.  I need to just let others experience their own seasons for themselves, I don't have to pretend to know exactly what they are going through, even when I really do know how they feel.  You know, just allow them to live in their season and encourage them through it, not make them feel like their situation isn't a big deal.

This whole post came from looking at a picture of Jude and hearing those voices echo in my head of people telling me to "treasure these moments with him".  I am.  I truly am.  But I couldn't treasure the moments until I entered into them, right?

Do you see where I'm going?

So, now that I've totally written a whole post that probably makes no sense to anyone I'm gonna go enjoy some of those "moments" with my Colony:)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Remember The Birds. Remember The Flowers.

Rainy and Zeke's classes at Journey were focusing on contentment last month.

One night our Bible reading took us to Paul's letter in Philippians 4.

Verse 12 reads:
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

We discussed the word content and what it means in our lives to be content with the season God has placed us in as well as the things he has provided for us.

A few nights later we were taken to Matthew 6:25-34.  Honestly, the whole chapter is great, but this section is where our family landed.  We talked about things that make us worried and anxious.  Specifically the fear of not having what we think we need.

We pointed out verse 26: "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?"

Next we discussed the beautiful flowers talked about in verses 28-30: "And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the flowers of the field grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you-you of little faith?"

Now flowers and birds are something my kids can relate with!  Paying bills and putting groceries on the table?  Not so much:)

The thing with our relationship with Christ is that in order to HAVE that relationship with Him our faith must be put into action...and that is how we shine God's light through the way we live.  By showing those around us that we trust in God to do what He says He will do, and be who He says He is.

We try to teach this to our children.
And they must have been listening to those discussions. (Sometimes I wonder.)
Because the next morning, the morning that I happened to pay all our bills before the kids got up for the day, I was feeling a little stressed (believe me, you don't want to be near our office during that time, ha!) and Rainy picked up on the tension level surrounding me.

She put her hand on me and said, "Mom, remember the birds. Remember the flowers."

She has been that gentle reminder that I've needed several times over the past few weeks.

When I'm fretting over the bickering brother duo...
When I can't seem to get anything checked off of my to-do list...
When the laundry pile continues to grow...
When I can't find 5 minutes to write a simple post...(had to throw that one in there;)

Areyna is there to remind me of God's promise and truth.
"Remember the birds. Remember the flowers."

These passages teach us that things will not make us content.  God will.  And we don't have to worry about our "things" because He's got us covered.  We are far more precious to Him than the sweetly singing birds or the beautiful flowers that blanket the fields.

What is it that keeps you from being content? What is it that brings fear and anxiety?

Maybe you just need to remember the birds and the flowers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jude Warren - 7 Months

Jude Warren ~ 7 Months
18.0 lb
Jude is 7 months.

I know I say this every month, but I'm serious, could he ALREADY be 7 months?!

His little personality is really beginning to blossom.

He eats like a champ.
He grunts the entire time he is eating.
It's oh-so-cute, but man does it make family devotions at the dinner table nearly impossible, ha!

He still sleeps like a champ.
Although he has had 2 growth spurts this month which has required one of those half-awake/half-asleep feedings.
I may or may not have woken myself up head-nodding a time or two:)

He has become quite the Puffs addict!
He looks so cute scooping them into his palm and actually accomplishes getting a few in his mouth every so often.

I've mentioned how he loves to sleep with his head squished in the corner of his bed.  In fact, the nursery workers learned that he is much more content to fall asleep if they wrap his blanket on top of his head like a turban:)  I can always spot him quickly when I walk by his class on Sunday mornings to check on him.

Jude is my only child who has been true to size in the clothing department.  I just now moved him to 6-9 month clothes.

He has gotten so squirmy!
I'd put him to sleep in the corner of his bed only to find him awake and knocking his head on the bottom of the changing table.
Therefore, we had to lower his bed down:(
He's not quite sure what to do with all that room in there now.

Thankfully he is still stationary, but man is he antsy to be crawling around with the rest of the Colony!
I've caught him catapulting forward to reach the other kid's toys from a sitting position, and he is pretty good at pivoting on his belly.
The little incident with Zeke's Iron Man mask was enough to gain awareness among the Colony to begin keeping valuables out of Jude's reach.

His two teeth have come in quite nicely...I know that for certain;)

We are still very much in love with this sweet boy!