Thursday, June 25, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Our first-born turned 9 today! Wow, where did that time go? Here she is with the gift her best friend sent her- a snow cone maker. It has been a hit with everyone in the house!

Lighting the candles on her Hannah Montana cake (of course!).

"Happy Birthday to you!"
Under the table...Daddy made her laugh instantly. The birthday cake game tradition continues...

Um yea, this one pretty much speaks for itself!

Friday, June 19, 2009

10 years...

10 years ago I married the love of my life- June 19, 1999. We've been through lots of ups and downs the past 10 years but I wouldn't trade it for anything. We're strong and we're tough-together. We've learned to work as a team and we are honestly each other's best friend. I look forward to another 40 or 50 years with this wonderful man. I can't wait to be that 80 year old woman holding my honey's hand!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I wish I had pictures! I wish I had pictures for you- but I don't. Tonight was so funny, hopefully the story alone will make you laugh.

We were all sitting around the dinner table, just finishing up when I thought, "I should do something completely random." I looked out the window at our pool and ever so calmly stood up and walked outside. Everyone just sat there chewing their food, wondering what it was I was going outside for. As I approached the pool ladder (still wearing clothes- no swim suit on!) I started to hear squeals from inside. I climbed up the ladder and then cannon balled into the pool.

By the time I came up and wiped the water from my eyes, just about every child was out the door and fighting to climb up the pool ladder. *Some kids were still chewing their last bite of food! They were all laughing and screaming- they couldn't believe I just jumped in the pool with my clothes on. So, they all followed suit (including Hubby)and jumped in the pool in their clothes.

I swam awhile and then got out to take care of Angel Baby- we played in the wading pool for awhile. I came in the house, dried off and rocked Angel Baby to sleep. Hubby and the kids are still out there swimming, laughing and screaming like crazy!

All because mom got a crazy idea- yea, I guess sometimes I'm just cool like that! hehe

Sunday, June 07, 2009

A Classic

Today is just one of those days that I have a particular song stuck in my head- and it's a classic! I just love this song, I always have. So, I looked up the lyrics...then I went to YouTube...the song is old and so is the video. Somethings are just good- no matter how old they are (that's my opinion, of course). Have a great Sunday!

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet me

Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Bless my homeland forever

Friday, June 05, 2009

Heavy Heart

I write this post to you today with a very heavy heart. This blog was started to share our journey, joys and even sorrows. So, with the desire to be honest and forthcoming- and in sorrow- I write this post. And mostly, I want you to know that we aren't perfect and we (as a family and as parents) struggle every day just like each and every one of you.

For quite some time we have struggled with our two oldest Liberian children. They are very different children with different personalities and different backgrounds/history. Right now they are 18 years old and 17 1/2 years old. We've gone back and forth as to the reasons why they have struggled so much and have not been able to adjust into our family/family life. They are not bad people and we don't see them as that, we see 2 lost children who can't/won't trust anyone but themselves. We can see how this could have happened during their previous years in Africa (without parents, without a family structure, and having to take care of themselves even though they were in an orphanage- supposedly cared for). Life has not been kind to them, before coming here, and they are guarded. We know and understand this...

For 18 months now, we've been faced how much we allow our family (and other children) to be affected in trying to help 2 older children who don't want (or won't allow themselves) to be 'helped'. Our hope and prayer is that somehow, some day they will each learn to trust and allow someone to help them. We know God asked us to bring them here for a specific reason, what that reason is, we have NO idea. But, we've come to terms with the fact that we don't need to know. We just need to listen to God and obey what He asks of us.

As of now, both children are no longer in our home. Our oldest (the 18 year old) is living with a different family in a different state, by his choice. Our daughter (the 17 1/2 year old) is in a residential-type home. She struggles with so much anger and we're out of ways to help her on our own.

Even though things have turned out quite differently than we originally thought/hoped for, we still thank God for the opportunity to be parents to them (whether they are happy about it or not). We don't know what the future holds for them or for us. We, as parents, are working through the stages of grief. This is what we've worked through so far and where we are at:
1. Shock & Denial
2. Pain & Guilt
3. Anger and/or Bargaining
4. Depression & Reflection
5. Reconstruction & Working through
6. Hope & Acceptance

All of this to say, we are far from perfect and we want to be very honest about that. People have said to me, "You are wonder-mom. I don't know how you do it. It takes special people to do what you're doing. You must have un-ending patience, etc." I see myself as an ordinary person, relying on the strength from God to what He has called me to do. I desire to lead an extraordinary life but I need God's help to do that... and what I do has to be in His plan.

Even though our hearts are heavy regarding our two oldest children, we still have 6 more vibrant and happy children here under our roof! They are all so different and they keep us on our toes! We are blessed by our full quiver!

"In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6

"Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, when they speak with their enemies in the gate." Psalm 127:5

An update- with pictures!

This day was so cute! Angel Baby became fond of this 'old' Barbie that sings "I love you the way you are and that will never change." The older girls played it over and over and on this day, she fell asleep to the Barbie singing!

All 4 tested for their new belts! I'm so proud of them- 3 have camo belts now and our 6 year old has a yellow belt with black stripe (that allows him to help out in his class).

After the home school conference, I gave the boys these 'Armor of God' play sets. They love them! It's great how they're learning about the sword of truth, breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, etc!

This was at Dear Daughter #2's Victory Ceremony at the completion of her school year. She received many awards for the year. Pictured with her is her teacher (and also the headmaster of the school as well as my good friend!).

Dear Daughter #2 with some of her girl friends from the school.

"Hey dad, what cha doin?"

"Mom, take my picture. I know it's not my birthday party but I can smile pretty. See???"

"Move over boys, dad is gonna show you how this racecar game is really played!"

Air hockey at the bowling alley (where Dear Daughter #2 wanted her 16th birthday party).

With some friends and little sister...

Awe- mommy and daddy love each other! But what's so funny?

The whole gang at the birthday party- it was hilarious watching them all bowl!

Blowin out her 16 candles...

Sisters love each other!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Too early

This morning has started all too quickly! It's just a few minutes before 8am and the kids are in full swing for the day. Hubby just called to check in on us to see how everyone is doing, I told him, "You're gonna have to pray for me. I think I may have to start getting up at 5am just to drink a cup of coffee and wake up!"

Princess woke up at 6:30 this morning and was disoriented when she walked into our bathroom. We need to replace the wax seal on our toilet in there so Hubby moved the toilet last night off of the old seal. It stared to leak and our wood floor is a little wet there so we need to wait until that dries to replace the toilet. She stood there for the longest time in absolute confusion, looking at the toilet. I tried to get her to be quiet because Angel Baby was sleeping in our bed....I ushered Princess out of the room and got her to the living room and turned some cartoons on.

"Mama, get my juice cup. Mama, I want Max and Ruby on. Mama, get my juice." I said, 'How about Mom, PLEASE may I have a juice cup? Mom can you please find me Max and Ruby?' She said, 'Yea Mom.'

So, I found an alternate show because Max and Ruby wasn't on (how dare them?)- it was the Little Mermaid...Praise the Lord! It would have been a show down if we would have had to watch something like Sesame Street or Franklin...why did she have to wake up so early anyway? She'll probably be a whining-machine until nap this afternoon. No coffee in my system yet, I could barely form thoughts at that point.

Angel Baby woke up. I nursed her and brought her upstairs to her crib and laid her down. I heard the bathroom door slam upstairs. I thought to myself, "By the end of the summer, I wonder how many doors I will have pulled down off the hinges?" I wonder who got woke up from that door slam? Angel baby stayed sleeping.... why can't certain children get the point not to slam doors?? I won't name names but it's the two who weren't taught consideration for others (and who are still learning). Still can't form many thoughts (other than the thought of no doors in the upstairs- only shower curtains hanging from every door frame).

I came downstairs and saw the 3 'middles' awake. I then knew who was the door-slamming culprit that woke up the other two... I'm trying to formulate a plan for the rest of the summer to get 'the culprit' out of the bedroom and downstairs to allow the other children to get their needed rest. In the past I've woken him up 10 minutes before he usually wakes up and ushered him down the stairs. I can then close the bedroom doors (quietly!) behind me and the 'noise-maker' is contained and can use the bathroom and wake up down here - where nobody will hear the slamming of doors...

Moving on-

I've tried to have the kids wait until 8am to eat breakfast. This usually gives me some time to formulate a plan or to cook something (if I planned previously). This morning I was bombarded at about 7:30. Still no I having thoughts at this point?? Some...I was thinking that I can't believe I'm going to have to 'plan' out mornings. Does this happen to other people? Maybe it's not so bad with just a few kiddos...maybe they're working in numbers....

Because of my lack of planning and my lack of awak-ed-ness (is that a word?) and my lack of coffee- I grabbed the couple of cereal boxes I keep on hand for 'breakfast emergencies.' I try not to serve cereal- it's not healthy- it's too expensive- and we can't afford the milk in all the bowls (even if all the kids drink it afterwards). I let them pick what cereal they wanted (Wheaties or Cheerios) and then poured them all a cup of juice (4 oz. to be exact- in matching cups so nobody could fight!). Coffee was brewing....

Princess came back into the kitchen with her bowl. "Mom, I don't like this one." I said, "Fine, I'll eat it. Come get a new bowl." I poured my coffee....

The two boys said, "Mom, can I have another bowl of cereal?" They asked again after the second bowl. I was thinking, "This is why I don't serve cereal. They have to eat a lot and don't get filled up anyway. They'll be starving in an hour...." $$$$$$$$ down the drain.....I will plan better tomorrow!

Drinking coffee....quickly....

"Mom, the baby stinks. You need to change her diaper again!" Oh diaper needed, badly.

"Everyone, when you are finished eating- please go and get your clothes, do your morning chores and head outside to do the animal chores."

They all go upstairs to get started...I should have known better- the fighting began... "Quit telling me what to do- I know how to make my bed (out of the boys room). "Hey, turn the light on, I can't see (screeched by Princess).

Cat on the table drinking milk out of the cereal bowl left there by Princess..... $$$$$$ down the drain and also into kitty's belly...

Big sissy wakes up and is reading her bible in bed.

"Mom, can we go swimming?" No, the pool isn't even done filling, I found 2 MORE holes and it's freezing!!!!!

"Oh, man! We want to go swimming- can we put the ladder in? Why didn't dad get the ladder out yesterday? Can we go swimming? Where are the other goggles?"

3/4 cup of coffee gone...

I went out and got the ladder out of the garage so the kids could clean it up. I was hoping it would take a little bit to keep their minds off the pool. The fighting started up again over the buckets of soap water, the scrub brushes, who was trying to climb the ladder to clean up on top, who was trying to spray off the ladder to rinse it, who was putting the scrub brushes in the toddler pool (bubbles were going everywhere), etc.

They all finished the ladder and moved on to the animal chores. The 3 middles switched into 'team work' mode and got everything done (as well as cleaning the dirty hay from the goat pen and cleaning out the rabbit cage). YEA!

Princess came in because she was hungry -she never ate her cereal (remember the cat?).

I fed Angel Baby and went upstairs to rock her to sleep. She fell asleep immediately and I tried 5 times to lay her in the crib (she kept waking herself up and would immediately start crying). She's trying to cut 4 top teeth at once and she also has a cold. Her schedule and her sleeping is ALL screwed up- I'll be glad when the teeth pop through and her cold is gone! I brought her back downstairs and put her in the stroller for the kids to take her outside.

"Mom, can we go swimming? We got our swimming suits on under our clothes so when you said yes we could just take our clothes off and go in!" "No! The pool still isn't filled up, there's a hole in the top ring that I'm going to have to find and fix and it's FREEZING!" Maybe I should just let them go in- then they'll leave me alone....when their lips are all blue!

The kids head down to the mailbox (even though I know it's too early for the mail to get here but I figured it would give me a couple of minutes). I think I need that second cup of coffee...

Princess comes in wearing her swimming suit armed with goggles and her pink floatie. "Mom, I want to go in the pool....."

I think 'Big Sissy' is the smart one. She ate breakfast when the kids were outside doing the animal chores, now she's back upstairs in the shower and then she's going to clean her room (in silence). She's got this thing figured out....

Kids are back from the mailbox. "Mom, the mail isn't here yet." "Oh, ok. Why don't you take Angel Baby around the loop (our circle driveway) two times and then come back.

"Oh, man! Yes, mom...."

Second cup of coffee poured.

~It's 9:45 now and I'm making a plan for my shower. Well, I was. Princess is now storming towards the house crying and screaming something at the other kids. I'll get there eventually...

So, you know you want to come here for a visit- to see all this in person. I have a friend who's blog is called "Life from the zoo." Maybe I should re-name this blog.... you could just come here and sit in the corner, drinking your coffee, and watch all this unfold right in front of your very eyes (and be thoroughly entertained!). Maybe someone could recommend us for one of those tv shows where a camera follows us around all day (atleast we'd get paid for this insanity!). hehe
Is this entertaining to you? It is to me.....

Thank you, God, that my life is so full and that our house is full! Thank you for the life you've given me, even when it's crazy. Thank you for the memories we're making every day. Thank you for making the coffee bean. Thank you for putting us in a state that allows the to play outside year-round. Thank you for allowing us to buy this house in the country where I don't have to worry about them playing in the yard by themselves. Thank you for my sense of humor. Thank you for the patience you've taught me, and I've learned, over the last 10 years (can you stop teaching me that now?). Thank you for the simple fact that an art project will turn the kids' focus from the swimming pool (even for 15 minutes). Thank you for my baby (even when she won't sleep and she's very cranky). Thank you for putting us in a country where we can home school our children (and I can focus on more character training this summer!) without being persecuted. Thank you for teaching me how to train my children to love and honor you more and more very day. Thank you for my hard working husband. Thank you for my blessed life!