Saturday, September 29, 2012

Blake is Coming out of Shell

For those of you who ask me if Blake is adjusting well after being home nearly a year. (November 23, 2011 was when we stopped foot on US soil)  I thought I'd just let you see for yourself!

Here is one of many pillow fights he and Daddy have at night.

One of his favorite games is "chase."  Even if it is with a piece of exercise equipment.

And this is how a typical evening meal conversation goes...every night.  He is definitely saying something here...even if it doesn't make sense yet! :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Life at Home

I have had lots of people asking me what life has been like now that Leah is in school all day.

Well, after the first week and a half of Autum crying when Leah headed out the door for school each morning, we are finally getting adjusted to life.  It's definitely a lot quieter around the house.  And believe it or not, I actually sit down for longer periods of time now that she's being entertained by her teacher, and not me, for a change. 

But we get out quite a bit.  I think we have visited the park every morning for about an hour.  And it never fails, both kids poop their pants upon arrival!  Shear excitement, I guess!  I now take a diaper or 2 along, just in case. 

We go get a cookie and juice at Little Pleasures on Wednesday's...and we always pick one up for Leah too!

We sometimes stop downtown and chat with "Grandma Sharon" at Molly's on Main.  We never stay long because my stress levels are through the roof the entire time we are there, as the kids are tearing through all of the antiques and trinkets.

We go visit Tabor College track and climb the bleachers, run up and down the ramps, touch all the lines on the football field, climb in and out of the pole vault pit.

We will sometimes sit and watch "Elmo" on Sesame Street if I have some work to do.  Both kids always love to see Elmo on TV!

But we have also been working on a lot of sensory activities.  Here are a few:

Here we are looking for pennies that I hid in the playdough

Playdough for a try! Every time I turned around, one of them was trying to sneak a bite!

Then we did some cause and effect play, which this boy lives for!

Push the button....spray....

Then we take turns spraying each other..

And wiping it up. 
Then we use the spray bottle for a hammer!  Like everything else!
And finally...we have graduated to eating food out of a bowl (and not throwing it) with a spoon...all by ourself!
Yay! (PS--Daddy cut his hair last night...note the mohawk!)
Baby Girl is almost 2!

So Ornery!

Just another "ouchy" on Blake's forehead, from one of many spills he takes while climbing on EVERYTHING!

Friday, September 21, 2012

1st Grade Thoughts

Well, I knew it was coming...the day I hear from Leah's teacher...
Albeit we made it past the first week of school, which is an improvement from last year.

But I should have seen it coming.  It was picture day.  The morning included lots of outfit changes, hair choices, arguing, crying, shoe changing, and on and on...but she made it out the door, not completely happy with Mommy's final outfit choice for her picture day, but on time, at least.

Leah has a very guilty conscience, which I hope she maintains.  Because the conversation on the way home from school went something like this..."Mom, this girl wore a weird dress to school today..."

I could just feel a semi-confession was coming I said, "why do you say that? What was so weird about it?"

She followed up with: "Well, I said something to her about it..."

"What did you say?"

"Well," she said, "I told her sorry and it looked nice now."

And I said, "What did you say to her?"

" teacher made me tell her I was sorry.  I told her in the bathroom that she looked like she was wearing a grandma dress....and she told on me."

As I stifled my inner laughing, I tried to explain to her that it's okay to think things sometimes, but that we can't always say what we think because it might hurt people's feelings.  That I know she wasn't purposefully being mean, because she is a very literal person and says what comes to filter, you could say. 

And she said in a louder voice.."I did think about what I was going to say, MOM! I told her I was sorry!  And that it was a nice dress after I got in trouble...(silence)

BUT MOM, listen!...what I really wanted to say was, "DID YOUR MOM WEAR THAT DRESS A LONG TIME AGO TO HER PICTURE DAY BACK IN 1ST GRADE???  But I thought about it and just told her it looked like a Grandma dress, instead." I tried my hardest to not snort through my nose.

Ohhh, my child.  I couldn't get mad at her for not 'thinking' before she spoke, because she obviously did.  But where was I supposed to go with our conversation after that?

It is getting harder and harder to stay one step ahead of her these days..

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vacation: Post-Adoption Style

Looking out our room door at St. Pete's Beach, Florida
Well, it only took 11 months since we last left the house alone since our adoption of Blake, but Jerad and I were able to get away for a long weekend, just he and I...and our Lugansk adoption family, the Basile's.  It took a village to take care of the kids while we were gone, but we pieced it all together and made our escape. 

We traveled to somewhere warm, relaxing, and quiet.  Our conversation leading up the weekend went something like this:
"What are we going to do all weekend?"
"No idea...hopefully eat all our meals, warm, in one sitting, and in peace...then sit and sit and sit, then sleep, sleep, sleep.  And finally relax!"

And pretty much that is what we did.

This is how we spent most of the weekend!
This is what adoption does to you...haha   , JUST KIDDING!
 We considered snorkeling, a dolphin sight-seeing trip, a sunset cruise, and many other fun-seeking activities...but for some reason we kept ending

With our toes in the sand, not a worry in the world, drink in hand!
We spent most of the weekend talking about our kids, go figure!  Discussing this life we have chosen...being completely difficult and a complete blessing all at the same time!  Laughing.  Reminiscing about our Lugansk trip and our longing to return to Ukraine someday soon.  It's amazing how God has worked such a love for that country, in all of our hearts.

We did attempt paddle boarding one afternoon.  GREAT workout!
Jerad (aka Scuba Steve) spent most of the weekend underwater with his goggles and snorkel searching for fish, sea shells, and whatever else he brought to the surface to show us.  At one point he brought a shell up to my Cabana chair to save for Leah...20 minutes later I was jumping and hollering as a baby octopus had emerged from the shell and wrapped himself around my sunscreen bottle, very near to my leg...haha!  That was about the extent of the excitement for our weekend, which was FINE by me!

Well, except for this picture, taken on top of a resort motel, in a spinning restaurant...after 2 glasses of wine...ha!  Let's just say it's been awhile since I've had that much to drink! :)

Except for our return trip home.  It was supposed to be an easy jog to Dallas from Tampa, then Dallas to home by 6, enough time to unpack and see the kids.  Come back from a relaxing weekend, refreshed and ready to take on the world...ha.ha.ha.  Not with how things usually go for us...We got to Dallas to find out they canceled our entire flight because of a broken airplane (don't get me wrong, I'm glad this happened while on the ground and not at 28,000 feet)...but, there were not exiting flights until 9 the next morning.  Operation: Fail.  We did some more checking and managed to get a flight to Denver at 9 that night, then a flight, hopefully, from Denver to Wichita...if it didn't fill up before then.  We debated whether to just rent a car and drive the 6 hours home...but that was going to be the LAST option.  So we took our chances and waited around until that night to fly to Denver.  We got on that flight by the seat of our pants, literally.  So we crossed over our state again, and through the 2nd time zone, to land in Denver.  Our plane was late in landing so we had a few minutes to find our new flight and HOPE to have a seat to Wichita from there.  Luckily there were still a few seats open, so we said our prayers of thanks and took off.  We got home about 10:30 pm only to find out our luggage was lost...but at that point we didn't care.  We
just headed home...exhausted!  

All in all, we had a good trip.  The kids were taken care of and did well.  All 3 were excited to see us when we got home, which made all the chaos from our trip home worth it.  We have already started planning our next getaway with the Basile's in 5 years, when we can do it again!  Who knows?  Maybe it will be to Ukraine!  :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It Can't Get Any Worse, Right?

My birthday is on 9/11.

Whenever I say it, I always get a "ohhh" response.  Yeah, it's not a great day to celebrate.  When everyone else is mourning a tragic day in our country, I never want to be the weird one wearing a Mexican sombrero in a restaurant, clapping, dancing, and blowing out candles on my triple decker chocolate, fudge, vanilla, cherry on top dessert delight!  No. 

So it is sometimes hard to want to be excited about my 'big' day.  But yesterday's birthday was no ordinary birthday.  I turned the big 3-0!  PHHHH...(suck the air out of the room)

Wow.  Leading up to this day I've had all these thoughts about what my next years will be like, God-willing.  Up until yesterday I was feeling pretty great about the future God has planned. I was in a good place...until...

I woke up yesterday.  To give you a hint, Jerad and I's motto for the day became "It can't get any worse, right?"

How could we be so stupid to repeat such a jinxing statement...??

I got up.  Worked out.  Decided to make my own birthday cake.  I wanted the kids to have some for breakfast.  I was really excited.

I hurried and got it in the oven.  I woke up Leah.  She was a grump.  She sat at the breakfast table refusing to eat, or drink.  She had the entire 6-year old stubborn look going...arms crossed, lip out, hair disheveled. 

No cake?  I was at a loss.  She said she didn't like the crust, too dry.  Fine, cut it off.  But I didn't have time to make anything else for her because her ride was to be arriving soon.  I told her she'd have to eat the cake and her yogurt, then drink her milk before leaving...(same argument every morning) because it was a long time until lunch.  Well, that flipped some type of switch in her brain.  Cake was thrown.  Milk was spilled, not by accident. 

My blood boiled.  To her room she went.

*ding, dong*  Her ride was here.  I sent her on without Leah.  Which proceeded to flip another switch within her.

She returned to clean up her mess.  In the meantime, Autum awoke.  And woke up with the mindset she needed her shoes on RIGHT AWAY.  But she could only find one.  So she followed me around in her dress, hair a mess, dragging one shoe  whining..."ssssshhhhhheeeeeeewwwwww,   ssssshhhhhheeeeeewwwwww...Momma! Momma!"

Then Blake awoke.  Covered in poop.  Head to toe.  A gigantic stinky mess.  Evidently his diaper didn't do its job during the night.

I looked at my watch starts at 8.  CRAP!  I changed his clothes, gave him a baby wipe bath and scooped him out to the stroller.  (it's faster to walk to school then drive from our house, too many 1-way streets on the way)  I then put Autum's one shoe on and scooped her into the stroller...both were loudly arguing this decision.  I walk back inside for Leah to remind me that it's Ride Your Bike to School Day!!!  And her tires were flat...and we couldn't find her helmet.

Oh. My. Gosh!

Thank God Jerad showed up on his way out to work and aired the tires up for me.  So on we went.  All 4 of us crying by now as we walked to school.  7:58 AM.

The neighbors yelled out a cheerful "good morning" to which we all ignored.  Which reminds me I need to apologize about that...although as bad as we all looked and sounded, I'm sure she got the picture.

We announce our arrival a block ahead of the school through tears and wailing...only to discover the entire school sitting on the front lawn awaiting a 9/11 service....ohhhh Lord have mercy!!  Leah rides ahead to get her bike racked up to much more aggravation on her part because all the racks are taken...the silence of the moment was broken by the choice words my child used.  We sent her on her way and immediately scurried off those school grounds to the tune of taps....I kind you not!  It became the theme for my day.

This was when I texted Jerad..."It can't get any worse, right?"

I returned home to bathe Blake and feed the little ones breakfast before I had to leave for work in 30 minutes!  During this time, both babes decided they didn't like the typical breakfast foods we have EVERY other morning.  They proceeded to toss every peach bite, pancake bit, and fork to the floor in distaste.  This stomach illness we've had has really thrown everyone's taste buds for a loop. 

I cleaned up this mess, left a few other suggestions to try to get them to eat, with the babysitter, and off I flew to work. 
Thank God for work, especially on days like this one.  I'm always met with hugs, high fives, and sometimes even picked up off the floor by certain bigger clients as they greet me each day.  That will put a smile on your face.

I was then served a spontaneous lunch at a new, dear friend's house, to my complete surprise.  One big highlight to my day!

Then I returned home.  Totally spacing off the groceries I was supposed to pick up for Jerad's lunch.

Upon arrival home, I head up to get Leah.  I'm immediately met with pleading questions for friends to come over to play, along with begging eyes, and droopy lips.  Today was a 'no' day, maybe tomorrow.  Well, that didn't sit well with a certain red headed child of mine.  So she pedaled her bicycle home telling me "you are the worst mommy, I hate you, and I am not going to be nice to you the rest of the day.  Hmph!" 

This attitude carried back over to the house and the rest of the afternoon was spent with crying, screaming, doors slamming, thrown snacks, belly aches, and tears.  Leah spent the evening in her room.  Autum cried for 4 of the 5 hours.  Blake rolled around on the floor with a belly ache.  And I cried.

I just kept thinking, get by until Jerad gets home.  Just get by until then.  And then he sends me a reminder text..."don't forget I have a haircut at 5 today..."

That was the straw that broke the camels back.  I put the screaming, little chubby girl in her crib to cry it out.  Gave Blake some juice and turned on the TV.  Made sure Leah was locked in her room.  And went to sit on the porch for a breather.

Jerad walked up about then and said "It can't get any worse, right?"

Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

My dad came up for the night, ordered pizza to which I can't eat right now, and to which the kids turned up their noses, Leah ate in her room because she couldn't get it together, and Jerad spilled his water cup all over. 

"It can't get any worse, right?"

At least the kids went to bed easy so I could return all the phone calls I had no chance to answer or respond too all day.

Then I flipped on ESPN2 and attempted to drone out the day through the excitement of the athletes dying their way through a Camp Pendleton workout.

And went to sleep.

ONLY to be awakened to Autum's screaming at 2 AM.  I knew as soon as I opened her door. The smell...the stomach curdling smell of vomit.

3 AM...back in there to clean up more.

4 AM...back in there to console her and clean up her diarrhea all over the bed.

6 AM...Jerad's alarm clock, Autum: more crying, more mess to clean up.

6:30 AM...the whole house is up, crying, and tired.  It's a new day...whoo.hooo. UGH.
...and another morning argument about Leah eating her breakfast.

HELLO THE 3-0!  It can only get better, right?


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Feeding Others

Getting Fat on the Feast
What It Looks Like

I feel like this post today is another continuation of the two posts above.  I'm a work in progress, let me tell you.  Or else my processor is slow and it takes me a year to begin to be able to put hands and feet to all the thoughts swirling around in my head.

Lately my husband and I have experienced some tension in relation to how we are 'living', 'doing', 'being', 'spending.'  This includes: our time, our money, our thoughts, our focus, our experiences, our pride, our desires.  So this has lead to some frustrations on both our parts as we feel like we are experiencing God's silence right direction, no leading, no real clarity.  But at the same time, we can't help but feel like there is something on the horizon for us.

Let me explain: WE ARE A CHANGED PEOPLE.  Let me tell you.  I know I have spoken on this before, but I just keep stepping outside of myself and looking in, persay, and realizing that our hearts are in a completely different place.  All this time I've been waiting for direction, feeling as if change is coming...and it has been occurring this entire time.  We have been transformed over this past year.  And I don't feel like God's done with us yet.  This is what I mean by feeling something on the's like we can't go back, now.  To the way we were living before.  We can't go back to the way we spent money, before.  We can't go back to living for ourselves, now.  We can't go back to trying to make more money, to save more money, to spend more money.  No, we can't justify spending money on purchases we didn't bat an eye at before.

We feel so different.  We think so different. And this has affected so much of our previous lifestyle.  We are rethinking church.  We are rethinking friendships.  We are rethinking relationships.  We are rethinking our previous beliefs.  We are rethinking life.  Our eyes have been opened.  And quite honestly I feel it has affected the way people view us.  We aren't the only ones noticing a change.

This is what I know.  Our Spirits are craving something that had been missing.  We have this constant desire for 'more.' This desire to go 'deeper.'  This desire to be 'fed' beyond what we are experiencing.  I feel like we have been searching for this fulfillment.  We are dry.  Parched.  I don't think its the result of poor teaching in our church.  I think we are trying to fill this 'need' with something that will never be fulfilling.  We find ourselves seeking inside the church, outside the church, in books, in Bible studies, in podcasts...but coming away still, with this feeling of 'need.' 

I don't believe we really need more knowledge.  Or more steps to improve our lives.  Or another event.  Or another book.

Here it is...this is what we are needing...
To live the Word.  

Simply put.  We are simply undernourished from an absence of LIVING the Word.  We have let our faith become about us.  And our Spirit is starving.  We have let our attention fall on ourselves and lost sight of living on a mission.  To love others.  I read this line in a book recently and it has completely humbled me, especially lately, as I wallow in self-pity of throw-up and poop and whining and fatigue and mess the past 3 1/2 weeks...The largest factor in feeling unfed is not feeding others.

 Ephesians 3:17-19..."I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

This verse spoke so loud and clear to me today.  I feel like God has clearly shifted our thinking and as a result is changing the theme for our lives.  I'm realizing we could go to the perfect church and serve on site for 10 hours a week and still feel undernourished.  This is where we were at.  We were so lost.  Another line from this book, "Fulfillment exists in becoming a slave to everyone in order to win someone to Jesus."  The last thing we feel we need right now is another sermon.  Our transformation isn't occurring as a result of a brilliant preacher unpacking the Word, it isn't through another Bible study, or Women's conference, or is coming through feeding the homeless man on the street, through aiding abandoned orphans, through lost neighbors eating dinner at our house, through Poker night with the men in the neighborhood, through sharing a glass of wine with the gal across the street...

Another quote I've run across in my searching that rocked my world and puts to words my current thoughts and frustrations...
"Living on mission where you've been sent will transform your faith journey.  I've seen missional living cure apathy better than any sermon, promote healing quicker than counseling, deepen discipleship more than Bible studies, and create converts more effectively than events..."

I feel like we have been approaching this all wrong.  Most people around us want to have a meaningful Spiritual discussion--just not with some Christian anti-everything, weirdo who doesn't even know their last name!!

Oh, don't get me started.  I get so fired up over this.  I have gotten past worry about what others might think of our new way of living.  I'm so done with trying to explain it.  Trying to argue it.  Trying to reason with people about it.

See what I mean by people seeing us differently now...? :)

We can no longer live at the intersection of extreme privilege and extreme poverty and not do something.  We can no longer rely on sermon-centered evangelism and the paid 'pro's' to reach the lost.  We are realizing that love wins over way more people than theology  We want to be missional people. Incorporating the "spirit of mission" into our natural habitat and way of life.  Not just live from mission to mission: serving once a week at the homeless kitchen, going to Honduras to drill water, helping at an orphanage in Mexico on summer vacations.

People need relationships.  They need me, as a person, loving on them.  Living beside them.  Messing up in front of them.  Being me, real. 

God made this very real to me this weekend.

I prayed all day yesterday for discernment, for forgiveness, for direction, for insight.  How to help.  How to be.  How to change.  What this will play out to be like in our lives. 

First of all, I am to pray for my husband's heart.  This is the first thing laid on my heart.  To pray for him to be affected in the same way I have been lately...for us to be changed together.  To be moved at the same time, and for us to act at the same time.  I prayed for God not to move in my heart without moving in his first.  We have to be together in this.  I am slowly beginning to get a vision of what this new life is going to look like for us, but am not moving forward (like I usually would have) to make it happen on my time in my way.  No, not this time.  I have failed so many times in this, as I get a 'missional' project underway only to feel God abandon it down the road as it becomes "my work", "my success," "my plan."

I have learned from that.  And it is a constant prayer and struggle.  But not this time.  I am waiting and learning and continuing to be changed. 

I have some ideas already beginning to form...I'm a master brainstormer.  This isn't part of the biggest vision I am having, but could easily make up parts of it..
-A cooking day with my neighbors, local mom's to bake up freezer-ready meals to take and bake.
-A walking/support group.
-A wine/dine night uptown, play some pool, chat, outside of the house, get dressed up for a change.
-Have people come into our house more regularly.  Eat over.  Even if there is food all over the walls and floor and my kids fuss through the entire meal...its real, its relational

These are just a few.  I'm ready.  I'm willing.  I'm changed.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Survival Guide for Road Trips with Us

So a while back I wrote this post: A Survival Guide for My Home.

As I was driving back from Hutchinson, with the 2 "little's' in tow, Saturday night, I found myself thinking of how anyone would want to go on a road trip with us, based on the way this trip was going so far.

Here are a few things I'd advise you to do, before hitting the road with us!

1.  Find every excuse not to go.

2.  If that doesn't work, make sure and invest in the best pair of ear plugs money can buy.  The big kind you would wear at a rifle range just might do the trick.

3. Ignore the things I might throw from the front seat, where I'm driving, to the back seat, in hopes it will hit one of the kids and entertain them for a few minutes...or at least detain the crying or complaining for a moment or two.  Don't be surprised by keys flying by your face, writing pens, checkbooks, my flip-flop, crackers, lids off of cups, ice cubes, my wallet, credit cards, socks, the owner's manual out of the glove box, the floor mat, my hair bands, protein shakes, spoons, full bottles of water or juice, bags of wipes, a diaper, licorice bits, pieces from my lunch, ice packs, and on and on.

4. While we are on the subject of throwing things, it might not hurt to toss in a helmet while you are packing.  On a not-so-rare occasion, when Autum's in one of her moods, she will selflessly remove her shoe and fling it over the driver or passenger seat, in hopes of it knocking you upside the head.  And the girl has an arm and great aim!  Let me tell you...

5. Throw your watch out the door, because we actually plan NOT to arrive on time, ever, anywhere.  No point in setting yourself up for disappointment.  We will stop anywhere to use the restroom or change diapers, or to get out and scream.  Open fields, country roads, public restrooms, port-a-potty's, side of the road, overpasses, exit's...any excuse to get out of the rolling scream wagon or away from the "Are we there yet?" we first began hearing when our rear wheels hit the street outside of our driveway. 

6. You might consider stretching some before you get in the vehicle to leave, too.  You are going to need to be limbered up for as many times as you will have to climb over the seat, to get to someone in the back, who has lost something they think they need, right then.  ASAP.  On the double.  Chop. Chop.  There's a chance you will be sore.

7.  Leave the books at home.  And the magazines.  The Kindle.  There is no quiet time.  There is no opportunity to focus on words on a page.  In fact, you will probably have already handed (or chucked) the book or the electronic you thought you were going to get to delve into on to the back, in hopes it would knock a kid out and shut them up or at least provide entertainment for them as they rip one page out at a me at this point, you will pay any library fee for the damage done to the book, just to get some peace and quiet.

8.  Don't plan on eating the snacks you bring along.  And certainly don't plan on stopping at a drive-thru to grab a bite.  The little bite-size cookies the kids have portioned out for snacks while on the road will get dumped to the side as soon as they get a whiff of your cheesy, cheddar poufs, or catch sight of your chocolate, chewy cookies, or hear the slurp of your cherry limeade...nope.  All the sudden they will want your food.  Your drink.  And they will do whatever they need to do to get it.  So just leave it at home, or be prepared to pass it on back...

9.  Nose plugs might not be a bad idea either.  You see, we don't eat many cheesy cheddar poufs or chewy chocolate cookies at our they don't actually settle well in their tiny little guts.  No, they ferment.  They swell.  And they explode.  But not before filtering the air.  As soon as you hear Autum tap the window and yell "Peeee....Yuuuuu!  Bobby stinks!" and she has her head tilted to one side with her hand over her will reach for the window lock button as fast as you can.  Trying to look through your now, watery eyes, to get that darn window down....grasping for air.  Feeling the 'stink' infiltrate your clothes and hair, you finally get relief from the outside air.  Sometimes this requires us to drive a mile or two down the road with our heads out the window.  So throw in a hair tie or are going to need something to pull the hair out of your face after its wind-blown for 3 miles.

10. Don't give up complete hope for peace and quiet, though.  You will get it about 2 minutes from your destination as all 3 kids have tired out from whining, complaining, screaming, and crying and will enter a deep sleep. Finally! Just in time for you to wake them up again, and start the process all over again.  Just try your hardest to avoid thinking about the trip home in 2 just might send you over the edge.

So if this sounds like a dream of a road trip, then back your bags, I'll keep you posted where the next destination will be and when.  All aboard!