Friday, December 18, 2015

our parenting looks questionable

This past summer, we visited our daughter's church in SC.  We were excited since we've heard messages delivered by this pastor before, but never at one of the church locations.  The sheer number of people was a bit overwhelming, but then I was really thrown when I was informed that I HAD to put the kids in their children's rooms because they couldn't accompany us into the service.  One of my children immediately went into meltdown, & I informed the woman that they really should revisit that policy based on extenuating circumstances involving children of trauma.  I wanted to say more, explain more, but it's hard when your child is right there and you are caught off guard (I did say more in an email later).  The effects of trauma can run deep, and parenting children of trauma can look very different to onlookers.  This post makes some excellent points about how it can look like we are being too hard on our kiddos or nitpicky about behavior (which we have been questioned on regarding the way we parent one of our sons)...I would also like to add that it can also look like we're being too soft.  The woman in charge of children's ministry at that church probably thought I was caving into my child's perceived temper tantrum when in all actuality, I was reacting to her fear and inability to trust that the adults she's left with will keep her safe.
The timing of the above referenced post (I read it late last night) was on the heels of another tough encounter.  My two littlest princesses were all dressed up and excited for their Christmas preschool program.  Just look at their cuteness!
In the midst of the cuteness and excitement, I am prone to forget and let my guard down. There were 3 preschool classes performing songs together, so you can imagine how full the space was with people.  The teachers brought the children out from the gym and lined them up on the stage steps. I noticed that KA kept biting and licking her top lip and thought, "Shoot, I should have given her a tissue" because I thought her bit of a runny nose was bothering her.  She did this the whole time, and it still wasn't registering with me.  When they were done singing, they were taken back to the gym and one parent was to go pick up their child/children to avoid too much chaos.  As I got closer to KA, I noticed something was off.  When I asked her what was wrong, she immediately began sobbing.  I cursed under my breath because it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Even though she is almost 6 years old, I scooped her up and held her like a baby.  She battles often with a fear that her family will disappear, and last night all she could see was a sea of unfamiliar faces.  As I collected KH and we were walking out, I was getting all these looks and 'knowing' smiles like, "Aww, she got stage fright" and all I wanted to do was scream, "NOOOOO!!! SHE THOUGHT WE WERE GONE FOREVER!!!"  But there is no time to explain when you have kicked into high gear trauma damage control.  Had I been on my game, I would have marched up there right in the middle of everything to say, "We're here. It's okay." or even just taken her out of the whole thing and held her. But even knowing what I know--that things are not always what they seem--I got lost in the cuteness and excitement.
You might be wondering why we can't just explain it to her.  Believe me, we reassure often.  But the thing is, you can't talk children out of trauma.  Childhood trauma is an ugly thing that causes false beliefs and survival behaviors.  The hope is that time and growing trust will negate most of the insecurities, but in the meantime, we do things different.  Right after the program, we had to head to the high school for the rest of the JV and Varsity boys basketball games.  KA wanted to play with my hair, which she tends to do when she feels anxious.  So right there in the middle of many people at a basketball game, she was running her fingers through my hair, twisting it, fluffing it, you name it...and all the while she was singing her Christmas songs in my ear.  To some, it may have looked like a mother not attending to a child making a mess of her hair; in reality, it was a mother allowing her child to perform her Christmas program in safety.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Family time is truly the most wonderful time.  We were blessed to have all of the kids together for Thanksgiving, and almost everybody for the traditional trek to the Christmas tree farm. 

This was our first Christmas tree adventure in the rain, but the big boys were insistent that we needed to go while Kearsten was at home (how can you say 'no' to that!?).  We headed out on the horse drawn wagon, found the perfect tree, forgot where we saw the perfect tree after walking all over to see if there was a more perfect tree, and then rode the wagon back to the barn to choose a "misfit" tree.  It's perfect.




I treasure our family adventures.  Like our crazy tree, they are imperfectly perfect and bring a smile to my heart.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

what love sometimes looks like

November has become the month we bring more awareness to adoption.  As I scroll through my facebook feed, I see a mix of posts.  Some bring an awareness of the need, others bring focus on the blessing and privilege of being entrusted with children not born into your family, and yet others bring awareness to the hard parts.  For me, I think it is so important to not glamorize it as if it's some charitable act.  It's a heart response to the reality that sometimes children can't grow up in their first families.  It's the belief that every child should be a treasured part of a family.  It's the willingness to become part of a story that's not just "ours"; there have already been important parts of the story that came before us (first families, cultures, experiences).  It's about being open to hearing and learning from adult adoptees who have such valuable insights because I'm in unfamiliar territory.
It's complicated, but I am thankful for this family that God has entrusted us with.  I envision our family tree; it has children and other people grafted into it that I never would have imagined.  I've had the honor of meeting and knowing some of my children's first families; others I will never know this side of heaven.  They are in my heart all the same. 
All this to say, I do want to share today what love & family looks like in our home.  Mind you, these are the precious moments caught on camera.  There are sometimes tough, sometimes tender moments meant for us to walk through.  Those moments are probably treasured most because it's what being a family really is.  Hard and beautiful.
Love sometimes looks like blankets and sleeping children strewn across the living room.
Love sometimes looks like reading a book with your siblings close by.
Love sometimes looks like helping your brother with his spelling words.
Love sometimes looks like helping with a special dessert for your sister's birthday.
Love sometimes looks like celebrating the day you were born (5 years ago already!)
Love sometimes looks like sharing your new art supplies you got for your birthday with your sister.
Love sometimes looks like going from being the baby of the family to stepping into the role of big brother with grace & being willing to spend time playing (or even helping with homework!).

Love sometimes looks like being a pillow for Gus. :)
Love sometimes looks like collecting leaves in a baggie on a beautiful fall day with your sister.
Love sometimes looks like building legos while still in your pajamas with Ella in your midst.
Love sometimes looks like falling asleep on your daddy after he's been away for business.
Love sometimes looks like snuggling with your sister's pug because her presence is therapeutic.
Love sometimes looks like a well-worn bunny with only one ear left.
Love looks like skyping with your sisters that don't live here anymore, like teasing and laughing about silly family shenanigans, like imperfect moments that are memories in the making...Love is family. O'hana.

Friday, November 6, 2015

love my minions

I'm that mom that is usually scrambling at the last minute for costumes to Trick-or-Treat in, and I'm not one to spend much money on costumes, either.  For whatever reason, I had a moment of inspiration a couple weeks ahead of time this year.  Visions of minions were dancing in my head, & I decided I could put together costumes with either practical items that could be used again or things I could make relatively cheap.  The kids were on board with the idea (they may have just been in shock that I was even discussing costumes ahead of time), so I found some inexpensive yellow long-sleeved shirts online.  I was a little bummed to discover they ran big, but it ended up being a blessing because the kids could wear their coats underneath (it was windy & cold).
The girls already had denim bibs, but bibs for K'Tyo? A) They are not readily available for boys and B) I knew he would not be interested in making them part of his wardrobe.  Have I ever mentioned that I think glue guns rank right up there with duct tape?  Well, they do & I made my boy his bibs with a glue gun and two pairs of jeans he had outgrown.
And the minion goggles?  Friends, the only ones I could find were $12. A piece. Times 4 minions. Umm, no.  Hello hot glue gun AND duct tape (along with canning rings and some black elastic...thank you go*gle). 
All that to say, I think this may be one of my most favorite years ever!  And the funny thing was we did not see one other minion all night, but boy did this group get noticed by kids & adults alike.  Kendi took to waving & saying hello like she was in a parade.  K'Tyo said, "Wow, Mom, you really did good with our costumes!"  I hope he still has this deep appreciation when we pull out the pics sometime during his teenage years. ;)  Without further ado, here are my marvelous minions:
Yay for Grandma & Grandpa living right around the corner...potty break & lots of candy!

Friday, October 30, 2015

i'm a soccer mom

It's true.  I'm embracing it.  I'm a soccer mom.  This Fall season brought not one, but two traveling soccer players.  Kaya was thrilled to be on a travel team like her brother, & WOW did she & her team surprise us!!  They are a completely adorable bunch, but all business on that field.  I really can't remember seeing a group of 8-year-olds so responsive to coaching (which we had really great coaches that did lots of teaching & even more encouraging!).
To our surprise, Miss Kaya ended up playing goalie in a game towards the middle of the season.  I hadn't really pictured her in that position, but my goodness, this girl just keeps surprising us.  She ended up playing goalie in many of the games for a half after that first time & really kept her composure.  She likes it!
Her team played great during the tournament, winning some really close games to make it to the championship game.  For the championship, we only had six girls able to make it (they play 6 vs. 6, so this meant no subs for entire game) and it was super, super cold.  Kaya had a couple of monster saves at goalie and an assist at forward...and they won by a goal!!!  Again, it was really something to see the girls' teamwork and determination.  So very proud!
K'Tyo again had a great season of soccer.  I don't have any action pictures of him because he never stays in one place on the field long enough!  I love to watch this kid fly up and down the field (he plays mid, so he's all over the place).  He continually makes us proud with his 110% effort, but especially his sportsmanship with his teammates as well as opposing players.  His team also made it to the championship game, but they came up just short of winning it.  So proud of them!
So there you have it...I have attained soccer mom status, but even more, I'm their biggest fan in whatever adventures I get to experience with these kiddos.  What fun it is to see the things that bring them joy and develop their character!

Monday, September 14, 2015

back to school...back to blogging

I took the whole summer off of blogging!  Sorry, but not sorry.  While I wish I had bunches of pictures tucked safely here, I'm also glad for just being in the moments.  Our summer was relatively simple, but simple is good.  We did take one trip with Daddy on business, which was great...I will probably post about that another day because we visited some pretty significant sites.  For now, I will share that all my babies (including the grown-up variety) are back to school.  Due to new buildings being constructed, our younger kiddos didn't get back to school until last about a staggered start!  From the third week of August until last week, it felt like someone in our crew was heading back to school.

Kyler & Kameryn, Sophomores in College

Kearsten, Intervention Specialist, SC

Kaelee (& her beautiful friends/co-workers), 1st Grade Teacher, Ohio
At this point, I just want to say that I LOVE that my girls still send me a back-to-school picture, even though they are the teacher now!

Kade, Sophomore

K'Tyo, 4th Grade....Kaya, 2nd Grade

Kendi & Kemeri, Pre-Kindergarten

Back-to-school time always brings a lump to my throat while also making my heart swell with joy as I see each of my children continue to blossom into the people God has created them to be.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

about kaya

After writing about K'Tyo, I thought it would be fun to do a post on each of the kiddos in their different stages of life.  Today is all about Kaya.

Kaya also just finished up another season of soccer.  To be honest, we have been a bit thrown by her budding interest in sports.  She's always been a bit of a, shall we say princess?  That's not a bad thing, but wow, are we now seeing a whole new side to her personality!  She is eager to learn and practice, and even more exciting is that we see her applying the things she's learning when game time rolls around.  She has also learned that her legs are strong and will not only carry her quickly where she wants to go, but they can also send a ball from a long way out right into the goal!  She scored in this fashion during her last game over the weekend, and I love that she still looks for us with that little smile of excitement to make sure we were watching.  Kaya has also shown enthusiasm for basketball and plays often with her brothers in the driveway.  It will be fun to see if she continues enjoying these things or discovers other interests!

Daddy got to help coach Kaya's team this spring, which was so fun.  Being immersed in school work these last few years has not afforded him the opportunity to be involved in this way, so it was a neat experience for both of them!

Kaya is also doing really well in school and has some neat friends.  On her report card her teacher wrote, "Kaya is such a great student.  She is a role model to her classmates and is kind to them." Learning to read and write and add and subtract is all important, but I hope even more for their development as people...People that care about others, that know how to build up others, that know how to apologize, and that know how to forgive, so for her teacher to point out those kind of attributes is such an encouragement to Kaya and reinforces the good stuff!

What a joy it is to see this girl grow, challenge herself, and laugh...a lot! :o)