Friday, December 19, 2014

making some decisions & changes

Sorry for the quiet again.  Lots of things happening around here since my last post about the hard & the beautiful stuff.

We've made some decisions about some changes we are making as a family.  It's nothing I ever thought I could or would do, but we are taking the plunge into homeschooling our 2 littlest punkins.

I am beyond words at how supportive Kemeri's school has been of our decision. They have truly invested themselves in understanding not just her educational needs, but her emotional ones as well.  She will continue to receive her therapies, but now they will come to our home.

And I will do my best to continue the good work they've been doing to help her catch up while also pouring all I have into this little one's heart to help her understand that family is forever.

We have already started converting the "green room" (it used to be painted now has green furniture, so it's still considered the green room) into a place that houses some basic preschool materials.  I am so thankful for all of the online resources, other homeschooling moms, & especially my oldest daughters, who are both teachers, for inspiration.

We decided that both girls would benefit from being at home, & Kendi has loved it.  Kemeri has had a trial run since we've battled some illness, but as of today, we are official (we had an IEP meeting at her school & discussed the new arrangements).

Truth be told, I'm a little nervous.  Those doubts of "what if I'm horrible at this?" can so easily creep in.  But then I remind myself that motherhood has taken me out of my comfort zone time & again as I have sought to do things in each of my children's best interest.  Right now, we believe it is in these sweet girls' best interest to work on establishing confidence in the fact they are an amazingly special part of our family.  We pray that they find strength in that knowledge that inspires them to spread their wings & follow their dreams as they grow.

Monday, December 1, 2014

hunting for the perfect tree

It's always a favorite...the trip to the Christmas tree farm.  This year, we ventured to a different place where every tree is the same price.  We found ourselves underestimating the size of trees out in the field one too many times, which is a bit of a problem when trees are priced by the foot.

I'm pretty sure we looked at every single tree at least twice.  It was a pretty mild day, so I think we were just enjoying being outside.

Somehow, Daddy has discovered the "selfie".

Kendi was fascinated by trees just her size.

I had to convince the people that this would not fit in the living room.  Like I said, we are notorious for underestimating.

I told you, he's all about the selfie.

We finally agreed on one!  We were walking in circles for so long that Kyler had to leave for work. This was still going to be too tall for our 8-foot ceilings, but I couldn't convince anyone of this.

Kendi was insistent on helping Daddy.  Sure enough, this beauty was not fitting in Dad's trunk, so we had to recruit Kam & Dante to take Dante's car (which has a roof rack) to go get the tree.  I must confess that I found this scene hilarious.  I'm not sure the picture does the ridiculousness of this justice! 

I was ready with my measuring tape, & sure enough, it was a 9-footer.  Kam & I got down to the business of making adjustments so we could get the tree in the house.

Gus thinks he's helping.

Somehow, I managed to not take a picture of the tree until after Santa had come, but it was a beautiful part of our home for Christmas.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

hard & beautiful

In case you haven't heard, November is National Adoption Awareness Month.  My facebook feed is full of encouraging pictures and sayings about adoption.  However, this year I've noticed more people taking the time to balance the warm fuzziness with the realities involved in adoption.  I am super-glad about that.  I think in any matters of the heart, it is easy to get caught up in romanticizing about it and not ever being real about the nitty-gritty involved.  It's like marriage...if you have taken all kinds of time dreaming about the wedding and planning the wedding and fantasizing about the fairytale life you will have but given no time to preparing for the demands of the commitment of marriage and the potential struggles you may encounter, you'll find yourselves in the weeds in a hurry.  So to the folks that have kept it real in a way that was transparent enough to give constructive information without divulging the personal details of your child's story, I appreciate you.  I do believe there's a line of appropriateness.  Joe & I have been open about how we have navigated the ups and downs of marriage, but we don't ever throw one another under the bus, and there are certain details that are meant to be kept between a husband and wife.  I believe this is true of parenting, as well.  

Anyway, I haven't said much in this month of awareness because I have been contemplating it all. I am passionate about children having families, this is true.  However, I have been concerned about some of the "rainbow & unicorn" mentality that I have seen.  There are absolutely beautiful moments, especially those lump-in-the-throat ones where you see your child for the very first time.  They are photo-worthy & make your heart swell.  

There are also the tough moments.  The questions you don't have answers for, the realities of pain behind those questions, and the insecurities that have taken root in your child stemming from early experiences they cannot even put words to but feel in the depths of their souls.  And many times when they can't find the words for those things, their behaviors reflect the uncertainty of it all.

So we seek to find balance.  We balance the beauty that is developing as we work through the fears and questions.  And I take pictures like this...

To the onlooker, this is such a sweet moment between sisters.  Indeed it is, but what you should know is that it is really a picture of balance.  One sweet daughter has been struggling as they discuss "family" at preschool.  She asks often, "Did you miss me when I in China?"  Her heart seems to need to know that she belongs here and that we need her as much as she needs us.  So we process, we love, we reassure.  Today was a rough day for her, but there is beauty.  She has a family to continue walking through the uncertainty, and in the immediate, she finds comfort snuggling on a snowy afternoon watching a movie with her sister.  That is the full story of this picture.

Hard and beautiful.  I don't have all the answers and I can't make everything right, but I am thankful every day for the resources God put in my path to help prepare us to expect the hard and look for the beautiful.  If you love raising children and feel pulled to adoption, great!!!  I would encourage you to talk to other adoptive families, check out the latest literature on adoption, and most importantly, seek input from adult adoptees that so graciously share their stories.  I think these are some of my most treasured insights, so be willing to listen, even if it is hard to hear. As the saying goes, anything worth doing is bound to be difficult.  My marriage, raising my children...yes, worth the hard to experience the beautiful.  I am thankful.

Monday, October 20, 2014

celebrating royalty

My youngest baby isn't much of a baby anymore.  Miss Kendi Hope turned 4 years old last weekend!

She is a self-proclaimed princess, which I believe suits her just fine.

She lives big...and loud!! :o)

She loves even bigger . . .

Like many little girls, she is all about Frozen, so she was quite giddy about getting Frozen undies!

The Queen Elsa doll that sings the theme song from Frozen was also a hit.

She only had one birthday request, & that was for an Elsa dress AND an Anna dress, because she couldn't be Elsa without her sister, Anna (which is always played by Kemeri)!!

This was by far the favorite gift, & right after this moment, she promptly handed Kemeri the Anna dress.  Like I said, she loves big.

Reese cupcakes were the requested birthday treat.

My precious Kendi Hope, you are beautiful inside & out.  We love your sweet, sassy spirit with all our hearts & are blessed by your wonderful self!