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We are glad you stopped by, we hope you are blessed, and enjoy your stay. We discuss a little bit of everthing here, from homeschool, parenting, adoption, farming, our faith, and our plain lifestyle. May God Bless Your Day!!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

16 years of being a mama-celebrating, and humbled

I know it has been over 1 1/2 years since I posted. I know I should be giving lots of updates,
posting lots of pics, and telling you all how wonderful life is with our 7 treasures.
I have often wondered, would I keep writing? Would I just let it hang out there in cyberspace for years, like so many long-lost adoption blogs?
Our life has become more than just adopting orphans and loving the fatherless.
Its become a REAL, fulltime job, mothering, discipling, training and loving 7 unique, wonderufully created, not easily meshed together, children who were lovingly placed in our home by an all-wise, all-knowing loving Father.
Lets just say, 16 years ago, when we celebrated our first Mother's Day with Kendell, and she was a petite, busy 2 yr old, and we were in process for our 2 1/2 yr old, super-busy Nick, that I never knew parenting could be SOOOOOO hard, yet so rewarding, so heart-breaking at times, yet so soul-stretching.
Life was about loving on our toddlers, enjoying all their antics, spending lots of time with the grandparents and extended family, and lots of friends also loving on them.
Life was pretty simple, and we knew it was what we had been waiting for for 10 long years.
But, life changed.
They grow up-and we added a few more children, some not quite so easy to bond with, and love on, and life became a game of "I'm not sure I can do this", and "I'm really not sure I am getting this thing right".
And you know what? 
I found out I'm not getting it all right, and I'm not winning "Mom of the Year" award any time soon.
I sometimes wonder if they even know how much they are loved, when there seems to be constant contention and strife, and who ever knew parenting teens meant rewriting your parenting ideas completely? And, I'm not a really quick learner. I tend to want to keep dong the things I did when they were little, and hugs and kisses and a story at bedtime were all they needed to feel loved and cherished.
I do love being a mom.
I do love my children, fiercely.
Each one of them, in their own way, is such a blessing to my mama's heart.
and I guess the old adage, "no pain, no gain" certainly applies to raising children.
They expose my weaknesses, I learn how to lean hard into Jesus, and draw strength and wisdom from Him, and quit trying to do it all on my own.
But, it does hurt, and sometimes, it really isn't fun.

BUT, it is all profitable, and necessary, and humbling, and stretching and growing.
SO, as I look back over the last 16 years of parenting, I am thankful.
And I want to look ahead to the next year, a little smarter, a lot more humble, and a lot stronger in the Lord.
Happy Mother's Day to all you mamas out there, whether through adoption, or by birth-this parenting thing isn't for cowards, or quitters, is it???
We used to say adoption is not for the faint of heart-
well, in truth, LIFE is not for the faint of heart-

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Family fun pictures

Well,things have been quiet on the blog for the last 2 months, for MANY reasons, but today, I wanted to share our fun family pictures we took while on an afternoon outing to our nearby state park.
The weather was cool and breezy, and we opted for FUN and casual over formal and "not a hair out of place"(as you will see from the photos:) )
I promise to be back soon with updates from our end of summer, early fall busy season on the farm.

Overall, I would say, not too bad for using the self-timer with the camera on a tripod, and keep in mind,these are unedited.
We have a unanimous favorite, what do you all think? Which one is YOUR favorite???

It was a very fun afternoon, and even though we took LOTS of pictures, everyone stayed happy and cooperative throughout the time.
We took many individuals of each child, I'm not sure what their individual favorites are, but here are mine:

Isaac, age 5 1/2

Isaiah, age 8

Lilianna, age 9

Lili was doing the squished eyes smile all day, there was only 1 of her with her eyes open, but she is still CUTE.
These littlest 3 are usually the hardest to get really good pictures of-so all in all, I think their pictures turned out really good.

Next up is Tyler-you hardly ever get a BAD picture of Ty-he loves having his picture taken, and comes up with lots of his own ideas of WHERE to be:

Tyler, age 10

He is such a joyful guy, a tad mischevious, and VERY loving.
We can't imagine what life would be like without him.

Rosalyn, age 16 1//2

Rose has come a long way in the last few months, and I think she has many more happy days than melancholy ones. She is finding her groove, and adapting to life in our busy family, and we are thankful for God bringing her into our life.

Next is Kendell. Home the longest, hitting 14 years the beginning of September, she is really into farming and cows, and loves being outside working in the barn or helping at the neighbor's farm.
I miss my baby girl who loved all things purple, bible stories before bed, and snuggles all day long.
Enter, a teenager with distinct likes and dislikes, and not afraid to tell you them, loves to read her own choice of books, prefers a pat on the shoulder to an all-out hug, and don't even mention purple or pink being added to her wardrobe:)
I love her in all her stages and ages, and I know God has some big things for her. She's creative, loves photography and writing, and can talk to anybody.

Kendell, age 15 1/2

Last but not least, our almost 16 yr old son, home 13 years in July, able to fix about anything that breaks down on this farm, or in the house, lover of knowledge, serious-minded, not a huge talker, but a deep thinker. He is also following hard after the Lord, and is eagerly searching out what God would have him do with his life.

Nicholas, 15 3/4

I love our family, and am feeling very blessed to have such wonderful, loving children.
True gifts from God!!!
Chris for all 9 ofus

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

When Delays become Disabilities--Part II

Our 7 gifts from God!!
I will say something up front--this has been a harder post to write-it has been on my heart for a LONG time, yet, to put it out there, for the world to see, is hard!
BUT, this last adoption has been hard from day one, and for those of you who read this blog, or correspond with me via email, or know me in real life, you already knew that, so, here goes...

Our last 2 additions to our family, Lili and Rose, came home at much older ages than our other children.
Even though we had done the parenting seminars, and read the books on attachment, and re-read the stuff on orphanage delays and scoured the web for blogs about older child adoptions, and "thought" we were ready, we were extremely humbled to find out, we were NOT ready for what was about to transpire in our home after returning in Jan, 2012 with an almost 7 yr old and a 14 yr old.

I suppose we went into it all with some pretty vague assumptions/hopes/dreams that they would be ready to be parented and become part of a large family.
After all, they had both been in foster homes, instead of orphanages, and we had been skyping and connecting with Rose for some time, so we HOPED there were some bonds being formed already.

Truth be told, I don't think either girl had a CLUE what being part of a family was really all about.
Lili was mainly an only child in her foster home, but the foster parents were more like grand parents, and seemed QUITE permissive, and of course she came home very sick with a months' old sinus infection, so I was not too sure she was even getting the best care she could have, being she was the only one in the home.
Rose was in a loving foster home, and for that we are thankful, but it was only for a couple of her years, not MOST of them, and where she spent most of her years is largely a mystery, although we do know it was MANY different places, and so, knowing how to give and receive love was not something that would come easily for her.
Lili did not like being in a large, noisy family.
She was a loner, liked her space, and wanted ALL the attention.
Rose was used to a quieter home, although there were many with more severe needs than we had in our home, yet we were there, IT WAS MUCH QUIETER than our little boys ever were.
Rose was scared, and although she put up a good front, the fear really came out when it was time for goodbyes. And who can blame her?
Just saying goodbye to our guide in China put her into a tail spin, and she had only know him for a week.
I learned very quickly that Rose hid lots of pain behind a false smile and though she was very eager to please, she also wanted lots of control, and soon became quite manipulative, pouty, and emotional.
We had bouts of both girls wetting the bed. We had kicking and clawing and refusing to do what they were told. I expected to see some of this with Lili, I was totally unprepared to see it in Rose.
We tried havimg them sleep together, but that was a disaster, because Lili would be the most impish little thing when my back was turned, or the lights went out, and that would IRK her sister to no end, causing a whole morning of bad behavior.
Then we put them in different beds, but the 3 girls were all in 1 bedroom-another mistake.
Rose seemed to want to bond with Nick-she had a couple foster brothers she was very close to. Nick had lots of compassion on her, yet soon became weary of the drama, tears, lack of cooperation, and feeble attempts to learn english. Since she had been with english speaking Americans for over 2 years, we hoped she had a better "basic" understanding of english, but we figured out that she would not respond to the english very well in the foster home, so then they would relay everything in Mandarin, and then she was happy.
We had been told Lili had speech delays, and since both boys had apraxia, I didn't think a speech issue was a big deal. But, as we got closer to travel, we got a rather scary video of her, that sent up huge red flags as to the extent of her delays, but what to do?? We were traveling soon, and I had read about parents leaving children behind after meeting them, and DID NOT want to be that parent ( no offense to those who did this, I TOTALLY GET IT), it was just my pride, you know!!!
We had been told Rose was "slow".
HOW I wish I had inquired more deeply into this.
I was prepared for being behind in school, for "slow" in school, yet I was NOT prepared for the social slowness, the actual physical slow moving, eating, talking, the emotional slowness, or the behavioral issues that came with the whole package.
Rose wanted BADLY to conform to our ways, and FIT IN!!
She put on a head covering without any hesitation, and I know she still has no idea why we wear one.
She wanted to dress like Kendell, and quickly shed her skirts and tops she came with.
It took me a couple months to see past the eagerness to conform into a heart that had NO parameters, and wanted NO boundaries put on her.

Even though she was in a fairly strict Christian home when we got her, she was compliant, went with the flow, and did what was expected of her, without any real "drive" to do better. She just did what she did, because that's what she always did!
Once she came into our home, lost her mandarin fairly quickly, failed to acquire english for a LONG time, and lost all desire to 'fit in' and became quite controlling, rebellious, and manipulative.

Well, DUH, you may be saying, she was 14, that's what happens with 14 yr old adoptees, MUCH of the time.
Yes, DUH, How could I have been so ignorant, thinking it wouldn't happen to us?
They came from HARD places.
It's called trauma parenting.
I had read about it, but I hadn't LIVED it, and once you live it, it's called SURVIVAL!!!

Soon, blogs like ONE THANKFUL MOM and Urban Servant and Emppowered to Connect became my lifeline to moms who had been there, done that!!!
Another HUGE lifeline for me was an email group of adoptive mamas of children from hard places who homeschool. Talk about a MAJOR bonus for me!!! I could connect with many other moms almost instantly after sending out an SOS email-it was HUGE when we were in crisis!
And it was incredibly helpful to have those other moms in that email group that had so many of the same issues, and could give me instant support, help, and prayer.
There is nothing like someone who is walking the same walk, to be able to come along side you and lend a shoulder, or an ear, or a prayer, suggest a website, a book, or a possible professional to seek help from.
This is getting long enough, so I will have to continue this into Pts III and IV.
I will get into the actual delays/disabilites of our girls next time, and then, in the final post, I will discuss what we are doing now, and what our plan of attack is to make life work with our 4 special ones!!
Until next time
Be Blessed