Saturday, May 30, 2015

To Share Or Not To Share?

Do I share too much?
Do I share too little?
Do I share just right?

My purpose for blogging is
1. To document our life with our adopted and grown children.
2. To encourage others to adopt and not fear special needs or older child adoption.
3. To be real and share the joys and challenges of adoption and having a large family.
4. To share with others what it is like to adopt as an older parent.
5. To encourage and support others that are going down the same path or who are considering it.
6. To be encouraged.

(pic taken halfway through our 3.5 mile walk.)

I am a nurse, a Mom and a wife for 33 plus years.

I sometimes say things that may be embarrassing to others but it doesn't feel embarrassing to us. 
I know my children may look back and cringe 
at some of the things that I have written about them 
or their siblings.
I cannot over analyze every word 
that goes into this blog.
For the most part readers 
"get it"
but occasionally through a comment
I sense that others may feel I have shared too much.

Our life is very good
but I feel
it is important to share some of our challenges so that others adopting will be prepared and 
will understand that adoption is not
all roses and sunshiny days...
There are everyday challenges
whether it is the child's or my own issue.

The important thing is to focus on GOD 
and pray your way though the
joys and challenges.

I also believe that attitude is very important... 

Having a child that is incontinent is no big deal... at all... to us.
And this was one of the special needs we feared.
Cathing and flushing are no different than you or me going to the bathroom.
Wearing diapers at whatever age 
for "just in case" reasons 
is also no big deal...
We consider it rather exciting that at some point- 
when he is ready, he will be out of diapers.
Even now he mostly wears them for "just in case" reasons.
He is also too busy being a child to care whether or not he is "going" like the rest of us.
When he feels it is important to make the change
(possible surgically or through better maintenance) 
then we will proceed.

It's no big deal to us to have an other son who was 
"re plumbed" and is now 
"going" like the rest of us.

One daughter gives herself a shot every evening so that she will grow.

Others in our home have cognitive disabilities while other have cognitive delays and learning challenges. 
Or to mention that a couple of our kiddos act impulsively and we are working on reminding them to think before acting.
And our list lovingly goes on...

This is our normal and we love it!

I learn from watching and reading what others are doing.
Sometimes it empowers me/us to do something we thought we couldn't do or were afraid to do.
I believe others learn from our sharing, too!
If I don't share the ins and outs
the interested reader will not learn and hopefully realize that they can do this too.

Potty, poop, shots, medicine, blood draws, transfusions, dr appts, learning and relearning academics and safety rules, etc 
don't bother us.

This is our life and we
LOVE it!

(This is the view as I open birthday gifts and the crowd get closer and closer!)

I'm a nurse so I could be a little off on my thinking and sharing when it comes to medical issues.
But we are felling pretty good about our openness.

Those that judge us or the children certainly have their own issues.

Our children are not embarrassed by this either...
At least not now... or yet.

Our children are comfortable with who they are and where they are at-
 they are not subjected to the outside world that teaches them
that they should or could be ashamed of who they are or what they need to do to maintain good health...

I see no reason to be embarrassed by this and at this point they do not either.
The happily restock diapers and the other necessary medical supplies for each other when they arrive.

It's actually a breath of fresh air to have them be so open and accepting of what ever
their siblings needs are...

I read many blogs and often have trouble remembering details about their family, so I try and do "recaps"  when I write posts, so readers know what I am talking about.

Will I regret my openness?
Will my children look back and be embarrassed by what I have written and shared with "the world"?
Am I making a mistake by calling them by their real names and openly writing about our life?

I don't know?
I hope not.

I am delighted that my children cath, flush, gives shots, take medicine, get new blood every 3 weeks and so on.
They are my heroes!
Their character is beyond their years.

None of this needs to be everyday conversation but educating 
those who are interested but don't know where to start 
or encouraging those who are living it 
makes it that much more important!

If even just one child comes home to their forever family because of our sharing, it was worth it.

Secretly, I hope God uses us to have MANY children come home to their forever family!

All praise and glory to HIM!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Process of Catching Up!

Sarah is so excited!
Her new school books arrived in mid May!

We do the Abeka video program.
She has learned so much and gained confidence in her school work!
She was almost finished with 5th grade and we decided to move her ahead to 6th grade!
The beginning of the year is review and then comes the new material.
We felt like this would be a great opportunity to move ahead faster.
Our plan is to move ahead again once Sarah is at lesson 100-120(out of 170), which should be sometime in November.

She will continue this pace through middle school.

This is not a fit for everyone but we felt that Sarah could it at this point in her education.
Some of our kiddos need to go slow - the repetition helps them to remember the new lessons.
Sarah is a good student but also and averages B's.
She is confident and growing in her maturity.

I went to the homeschool conference with these four kids, this year!
It was a first for Mia, Ava and Melissa.
They loved looking at their new school books and all of the other learning materials at the conference!

Enrolling 11 children is no small task!
Love you Abeka but you need to update your enrolling process- it's from the 90's...
Separate paperwork for all 11 children and all blanks need to be filled in on each form (handwritten).

The children at home went to a local farm for an 
"Animal Babies" class!
WE LOVE babies of all kinds- humans, birds, cows, pigs, puppies and so on!
They had a wonderful time!

We really had fun together and got lots of
"new stuff" for all of the kiddos!

Sarah was very excited to get started on 6th grade!

We will take a 4-6 week school break over the summer.

Sarah will most likely do 1-2 lessons per week 
during our break time.
Then get back into the regular schedule in mid to late July.

Sarah would like to go to college someday.
She will not be a science or history major.
She will probably not be an English teacher either but
that still leave many other wonderful possibilities!

New books, new videos, new teachers and new bible stories!
It doesn't get much better!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why I LOVE Adoption!

I love pretty much everything about adoption
but here are some of the perks!

Hubby and I went out on a rare date!

We came home to find our bed turned down
and chocolates waiting for us!
Sarah is such a fun daughter to have!
Adopted at 8.5 yrs old and now she is 15 yrs old!
Once they have been home as long as they were in the orphanage (or away from you)
they have fully integrated to their new life.
I have heard this a couple times from "adoption experts"
and I believe it.
I am sure there are exceptions but for us we seem to be
"on track" with this way of thinking!

My birthday hasn't quite arrived yet but our dear Madeline is all set 
and excited to give her card to her Momma!
And that Momma just happens to be me!
Yay GOD!

We do the Abeka homeschooling program 
and the 3rd grades assignment was to write a letter to your Mom/teacher!

Ava came home before her 6th birthday and is now just about 10 yrs old!
Even though she has been home less than the time she was in the orphanage I would definitely say she is fully and completely integrated into her life and our family.
She will joyfully argue with us and not think twice about letting us know she is right and we are wrong about whatever issue it may be!
She is witty and has such a fun sense of humor!
She smiles and radiates joy 
all. of. the. time.!

I cannot tell you how much these dear letters warm my heart!

Mia, is such a precious child!
She came home at 11yrs 3 months and her transition has not been completely easy.
Life in her orphanage was tough.
It was a very poor orphanage- no heat, no air, no running water and not inside corridors.
The girls bonded closely with their peer group and had a family of sorts.
They were very close and it was hard on each of them to separate and join their new families.
When Mia is sad sometimes it is because she misses her friends from China.
She also has a timidness (yet bold at times) and shyness about her.
She doesn't share her past and has forgotten most of it.
Mia had very little education and it was hard on her to "jump into" our homeschool.
She wants to be the best and conrtinuously works very hard.
Sometimes she forgets that it is more important to learn the information instead of just "getting it done".

This letter to me brings me such joy!
No periods, commas, capitols 
but one of the BEST "run on" sentences I have EVER read!
Thank you Jesus for the progress that she is making!

Melissa- you are a treasure and you have quite the sense of humor!
Yes, you know Daddy will see this and he's gonna get ya back!
Melissa has jumped into school and has more than made up for lost time!
She did very well in school in China and had no problem joining the first grade class at home when she knew "zero" English!
She is quiet, clever and has the best "dry" sense of humor!
Melissa could blend into the crowd but we don't let her!
 She is making her presence known more and more with each passing day!
She is a complete  JOY!

This is from Anna!
The first home!
The handwriting, the erasing and the random but creative sentences are her to a "T"!
She is a love bug!
She is happy to have been the first one to come home but she also wishes she had more of an "adoption story".
She was only 16 months and can't remember a thing about China.
At time she makes up her own adoption story!
She often thanks us for her family!
She has graciously welcomed 12 more siblings!
When she cuddles in our arms it's comforting and so fitting, there is just nothing awkward about it.
Anna has a lot of energy and a great sense of humor!
She likes to "get what she wants" and sometimes has trouble waiting for it.
She is so very smart! 
However, listening and paying attention are a bit hard for her.
Anna is as skinny as can be and growing like a weed!
Next winter she will have her bone graft done on her upper jaw.
They had to wait longer than expected for this surgery.
She needed more time to grow bone and with bilateral cleft
there is a bigger space that needs to be filled with bone.
When we saw her picture we knew she was our daughter- 
it was love at first sight.
We felt God guiding us to her and we knew all would be well.
We assumed her cleft would be a breeze and we were exactly wrong ;-)
She has pretty much had every complication a cleft child could have.
No worries, because she is all ours!

Sweet Sam has a heart of gold!
He loves us all so deeply.
He is kind, helpful, thoughtful and joyful!
Except for the few times when he gets irritated at his siblings.

Sam is a smart guy and he likes to be the "man of the house!
He likes to fix things, tinker around and help out whenever he can.
He is ALL BOY!

And he loves to bring whatever he catches outside... 
to his Momma who is inside!

Sam aims to please his Momma and Daddy!
He is a chatterbox and shhhhhh is not in his vocabulary.
He is personable and friendly to all that meet him and can start up a conversation with anyone.
Sam is from a very very poor orphanage. 
He was adopted at 4.5 yrs old and has no memories of China.
He does not desire to return to China 
but he would go if he was certain he could be close to us at all times.
When Sam is sad, he is deeply sad.
When he cries it is hard to help him to "stop crying".
He goes to a place deep inside his heart to a place of mourning and past hurts.

He is such a blessing to us!

So here is a little window into the joys of adoption!

Six little blessings that have blossomed in front of our very eyes!
God is so good!
We are so thankful!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

He's 9!

And he is so happy to be celebrating his birthday!
He is joining Ava, Melissa, Abby, and Anna in our 9 yr old club!

Ben chose Buffalo Wild Wings for his birthday dinner!
I think the fact that everyone gets to play the hand held video games may have had something to do with his choice!

Big brother Johnny joined us for the celebration!
Because the older children are busy with school, work and their life in general it is always a real treat when they can be with us!

There was definitely some male bonding going on at the far end of the table!
We don't play video games at our house so this was a huge treat for everyone!
(We do play some games on the ipad for Dr appts and on a few other necessary occasions.)

Both Ben and Sam decided Johnny should sit right between them!
That way they could talk about their games together.

At one point Sam had his arm around Johnny!
Lots of brotherly love going on!

The opening of the birthday presents is such an exciting time for the children!
We give four gifts but sometimes Mom puts more than a few items in the box!
Oops, my bad!

Spy Gear was a huge hit!
The girls weren't so happy about this one because most likely the boys will be trying to spy on the girls!
We have set down a few "spy rules" in the house!

Ben LOVES legos!

And the smorgasbord box contained
a light up yoyo
yoyo trick book
a golf glove
and a watch!

Ben is a very content, mild mannered and happy child.
He does not ask for much, in fact his birthday list consisted of a light up yoyo!
(Thank you Am*z*n for making the birthday shopping for this Mom of Many E.A.S.Y.!)
His new watch has an alarm on it and we are hoping that in the near future 
he will use it to remind himself to cath. 
He often forgets and we need to remind him most of the time.
I think part of the reason is his because of his peaceful nature.
There is no pressure or embarrassment in our home 
(like there would be in a school or with peers) to 
not wear diapers or be continent.
He independently takes care of himself and it
doesn't bother him that his bathroom needs are different than others.

Oh my, did he LOVE his gifts!

Ben and Sam will be going to golf camp this summer!
Ben has a natural golfer demeaner!
Sam... (smile), not so much!
Sam never stops talking ; - )

He asked for a Ninja Turtle ice cream cake!
Many times readers have asked how on earth does one cake feed your family?
The birthday child gets a good sized piece of their cake but the rest of us get a much smaller piece.
We have LOTS of birthdays and really don't need a big piece of cake each time!
Plus it's always after a BIG meal so we are all a bit full.

Such simplicity and such joy!

He waited for his forever family much too long!
So thankful God chose us!

Happy Birthday Ben!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

First Communion X3!

Abby, Ben and Madeline were so excited for their first communion!

They worked so hard on their banners!

We did the lessons at home together and then went shopping to get the supplies to make their banners!
The other kiddos wanted to go with us BUT no...
It was their moment!

My heart is so thankful for these amazing children!
They are ALL such treasures and yet they sit in orphanages 
they are discovered...
Thank you God for leading us to these three dear children!
(and our other treasures!)

Please consider adoption- it is such a blessing!

The big day finally arrived!
The girls were so excited to wear the First Communion dresses!
Yes, they may look familiar from last year.
We had five treasures doing first communion in May of 2014.
We are "going green" and reusing/ recycling the beautiful dresses that we already had!
It didn't bother them in the least!

We curled hair and had special hair pieces for the two girls!
Brand new socks with ruffles and new white sandals!

Thank you Jesus!

Hubby took the kiddos to the practices so I had no idea
 that they were carrying things down the aisle!

I definitely would have worried more if I would have known!
(FYI- we took pics without Madeline's glasses 
and then forgot them at home ; - )

BUT, all was well and we didn't spill, drop or break anything...

21 first communicants!
God Bless You dear children!
Their is a new group every Saturday eve and 
Sunday morning for 3 weeks!

Thank you Fr. Steve!
Loved your sermon!


And Thankful!

It was a wonderful evening for all of us!
We LOVE our church!

Billy joined us!
And yes, he is my new favorite child of the bigs!
(Just kidding!)
Thank you Billy!
he could not join us for dinner because of some...
"fight" goin on...

Yes... we took the easy route after the service and 
took the kids out to dinner!

They were thrilled with the whole experience!
From now on, these three can have communion!
Joey and Luke are next- in 2 years!

These two were part of last years group!

Thank you God!