"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Handsome!

Thank you for all you do for us...
fixing our cars,
filling our tanks,
making breakfast,
pulling tubes and wakeboards,
starting campfires,
making the perfect marshmallows,
corny jokes that make you laugh harder than the rest of us,
and prayers.

We adore you!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We Made It!

I am really, really happy that today is OVER!

The morning began horribly.  I had to wake up Joshua early to get Sierra to band practice.  He freaked out!  I had to pry his fingers off his bed rail and carry him kicking and screaming out to the van.  When we got to the van, he refused to stay buckled.  I tried over and over again to reassure him that we were only going to drop off the girls at school and then going home - but he could not settle down.  Finally, Sierra had to sit next to him and hold his arms to keep him in his seat.  It was not pretty.

About half way to the elementary school he stopped struggling and started weeping.  By the time we got home, we were both crying.  I grabbed him out of his car seat and we just sat cuddled up in the van for a long time.

Eventually we went into the house and made some breakfast - ham and eggs, Joshua's favorite.  We played a little and talked through the events that were going to happen today.  After some food and cuddles, Joshua said he was ready to go.

We climbed into the van and Joshua buckled right in.  When we arrived at Denise's house (aka day care), Daddy was there.  Daddy went in with us to meet Denise.  We all visited and played for a while.  Then Daddy went to work.

I stayed for just a few minutes longer.  Then I wrapped my Joshua in my arms and asked him, "How much does mommy love you?"

He whispered into my ear with a big grin, "Soooooo much!"

"Right!" I told him with a big squeeze.

I reminded him that I needed to go to work for a little while, but I would be back after lunch.  I would pick him up and then we would go get the girls from school.  After school, I promised to take he and his sisters to McDonald's.  He nodded solemnly.

Before I could go on, I had to just breath for a long moment.  Then I asked him, "Does mommy always come back?"

He shrugged and refused to look into my eyes.

I breathed deep breaths to regain my voice, tilted his chin so I could peer into his eyes, and when he finally looked into my eyes, I told him, "Mommy always comes back!  Always!"

He snuggled deep, sighed, and nodded.

More breathing.

I gave him one last hug.  He walked me to the door, but stayed nicely inside.

He waited for my beep, beep.

He looked tiny... and nervous... and pale.  He waved, no smile, but no tears either.

I cried enough for both of us as I drove away.

I texted Denise an hour later and she said he was doing great.  Talking.  Warming up.  Teasing her.

I returned 4 hours after leaving.  

Joshua was happy to see me - relieved - but not desperate.  

I am sure he was starving.  He had refused to eat lunch because "Joshua only eats with mommy and daddy."  Thankfully Denise did not push the issue.  (I had warned her that he has a hard time eating in new situations.)  

He snuggled in right under my chin and told me, "Joshua I want to hug you and hug you!"

Denise told him what a wonderful job he had done at her house.  I reminded him that he would be with mommy all day tomorrow, but he would see Denise and the other kids on Thursday and Friday.  He said a quiet, "OK"

Driving to get the girls, he told me bits and pieces about his day.  Denise has a baby puppy and he loves her!  The babies fascinated him.

We grabbed the girls and went to McDonald's where he ate every crumb of his kids meal!

This evening he was OK.  Really tired since he did not nap, but OK!  He played baby a lot, a sign that he needed to be held more, but he also played independently some.  It was a really good mix of expressing that he needed extra mommy time and touch, yet not being excessively needy.

He also went to bed flawlessly, which tells me he's OK.  Anxiety and over-stimulation always peaks at bedtime for my Joshua, if bedtime goes well after lots of change I know he is handling things just fine.

For a first day, it was perfect.

Thank you for praying for my son.  Thank you for praying for me.  Keep praying, please.  This transition is far from over, but I am so very, very thankful that it started as smoothly as it did!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ready Or Not...

Joshua and I had a great day!

We played at two parks.
Ate pizza for lunch.
Napped together on Mommy's bed, sharing mommy's pillow.

We also shopped for this fancy new backpack;


ready or not,

day care here we come!

"I can do all things through Christ
who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:13

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Going Back to Work

Well, the time has come.

This is the week I head back to work.

For real.

In an office.

Without Joshua.

I am excited about the job.  Actually jobs!  I will be still be working for Chad some.  However, the majority of my time will be spent at a new job.  Before you are alarmed... NO! there is NOTHING wrong with our marriage or our business.  Both are just fine.  We have chosen to make some changes to my job for Chad's business which will lighten the amount of work he needs me to do there.  I am good with that!  I love working for and with Chad.  I am competent in the tasks I do in his office; but although I am passionate about my boss, I am not passionate about the tasks I do.  So I am very excited to do something more of my choosing.

While I am excited about the work I will be doing, I am struggling with leaving Joshua.  A lot.  Really, really a lot.  Unfortunately, in order to raise all 5 of our children in the way we want to, I need to go back to work.  I am tempted to pause here to explain exactly all the options we considered as we made this decision.  I want to justify it to you, but if I am really, really honest all I want is for you to reassure me that I can still be a good momma AND send my child to day care.  You see, while I do not judge other working momma's as less than or lacking in any way, I am certainly judging myself.  Worrying.  Second guessing.

So, pray for Joshua and I even more than usual this week.

Tomorrow we spend the day together, just us.  No work.  All play.  Lots of parks.  Lots of snuggles.

Tuesday, he will spend a few hours at day care.  It is a home day care, which freaks me out.  A center feels safer to me.  More people coming and going.  More accountability.  But a center would feel like an orphanage to Joshua.  It would not work.  So my job on Tuesday is to give Joshua permission to begin bonding with a woman who is nearly a stranger to me... to us.  I think she is delightful, sweet, calm, gentle.  Yet there is still a part of me that is terrified!  I am trusting her with my son.  The very son that I have worked so hard at so many things with.  The son who has become strong and confident and capable and so very attached to me.  I know he is ready, as long as she is who I think she is...  I have no reason to doubt her.  It is just all so new to me.  My brain swirls unhealthily on the "what ifs" instead of trusting.

Wednesday we will spend the day together again.  Just us.  Little work.  Much play.  Lots of snuggles.  Birthday lunch with Daddy.

If Tuesday goes well, we will try day care again a few hours (like 10:30 to 2:30) Thursday and Friday.

Eventually, Joshua will spend every day at day care from 7:45 to 3:15.  We will ease into that, adding slowly, as he and I are ready.

While I am tempted to dwell on the facts that are anxiety producing, that would be silly when there are so many more things to be thankful for!  So I will end with thankful thoughts.  I am thankful for 15 months at home.  15 months to not rush.  15 months to savor and enjoy my son.  I am thankful for free busing that will bring Sierra and Brenna to school.  I am thankful for the excitement of a new job and the flexibility of my old one.  I am thankful to be allowed time to adjust to a new schedule.  I am thankful for God's provision in my life, not just financial provision - but even more for His provision of grace, hope, joy, peace, friendships.

"Whatever you do,
whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
Colossians 3:17

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to School 2011

 Krissy, drove off to High School this morning!

Sierra, Grade 6!

Brenna, Grade 3

Joshua, age 3.5

Jamison, Grade 8

The girls were up bright and early getting ready.  Making sure everything was "just so!"  Jamison, on the other hand, slept until 8!  He wolfed down a plateful of pancakes and eggs and sauntered calmly down the path to the Middle School.

Praying God's blessing on their day, their teachers, their friends.  Praying for your kids off to school today too.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

This and That

Because my new ride looked more like something that should haul convicts than something that my precious family would ride in...
 my handy hubs added a little trim tonight.
He was well supervised!
Chad is the "motor head" in this household.
Normally I am encouraging him to NOT add accessories to my cars, however this big shoebox of a van needed a little charm!  So with the addition of a pinstripe, some door and wheel well moldings, and a few more "pretties" ordered online - my van is looking much friendlier!

Thanks babe!
 Today was the final day of summer for our kids.
We mourned celebrated today by taking the kids out for Chinese.
on this, the final night of summer vacation
the Ice Cream truck drove through our neighborhood.
Daddy bought treats!
Bye-Bye Summer!
We HATE to see you go!

**On a personal note, please pray for me.  I will explain more as I discern God's will.  But for now, I will only share the verse I have been using as my prayer.
"May the favor of the Lord rest upon us;
Establish the work of our hands for us -
yes, establish the work of our hands."
Psalm 90:17

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It was not on my "bucket list"...

but it IS in my garage!

I recently read about a mom who was so excited to get a BIG OL' VAN.  I have to confess, I was NOT excited.  In fact, I was feeling mighty sad to trade my big, beautiful black SUV in on this "Mega Momma Mobile."

However after a summer filled with road trips, I fully realize that we have outgrown an SUV.  My teenagers were squished!  Soooooo, I caved!

It might not be cute, but I am curious to see who God chooses to fill it with?!?  With more than enough seatbelts so many things are possible!  

Need a ride?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happiness Is New Jeans!

The only bummer about summer in the eyes of our littlest man was the lack of JEANS!

Many mornings started with a conversation like this:
"Joshua, it will be very hot outside today.  Mommy would like you to wear shorts."

"Mommy, Joshua NO I like shorts!  I only like jeans!"

"I know you like jeans, but you will be so hot in jeans today!"

"What Daddy wearing?  Daddy always wearing jeans at working!"

"Daddy wishes he could wear shorts today because he will be HOT all day!  What if you wear your jean shorts?"

"Pleasie let me wear jeans!  JOshua I love it jeans soooo much!"

Our JOshua simply loves, loves, loves JEANS!

So, you can imagine his excitement when a new supply arrived in the mail yesterday!
He woke up this morning SO happy because he would get to wear his NEW JEANS to church this morning!
I have to admit, he makes a very cute jeans model!

He also looks very grown up in his 4T jeans.
He no longer looks like a toddler!
He has become a tall, lean, handsome preschooler!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Securely Attached

In the report our social worker wrote after our one year post placement visit, she deemed Joshua "securely attached."  When I read those words, I was not totally convinced they were true.  To me "securely attached" meant I never felt the need to cautiously protect the growing bond between myself and my son.  While 12 months post placement I was quite confident in Joshua's attachment, there were still moments in which attachment felt fragile.

I am so happy to say that now, nearly 15 months after I held our son for the first time, I am labeling Joshua Gebeyehu Chad "securely attached!"  I can not think of one time in the last month that I have noticed anything insecure or fragile about our relationship.  I can not think of a time when I chose to limit him in any way in order to protect his attachment to either Chad or myself.  He feels solid, totally completely secure, totally home, totally ours.

I am so thankful!  Especially since it is time for me to return to work... for real... in an office... without my boy.  I would be lying if I told you I was not heartbroken.  I am a stay-at-home mommy at heart.  Being at home nesting is where I am happiest.  However, finances dictate that it is time for me to return to work.

This does not come as a surprise.  One of my biggest arguments with God as He was calling us to adopt was the FACT that I would have to send our child to day care.  I have never sent a three year old to day care before, and I never planned to... before Joshua that is.  As I argued with God about this (and a few other details), He continually reassured me that He had it under control.

In the end I was blessed to be with Joshua 100% of the time for 15 months.  Much longer than I ever would have guessed.  In those 15 months God has absolutely transformed my son. I am so, so, so thankful for each moment.  I am so thankful that God allowed enough time for me to feel confident that my going back to work will be something JOshua can handle.  And if Joshua can do it, so can I!

So pray for both of us as I interview day care providers.  (maybe pray for them too as you know how picky I will be, LOL!)  I trust with all that is within me that God chose a caregiver for my baby before He placed him in my arms.  (Yep, those words made me cry... tears of relief and tears of grief!)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Resting in Thankfulness

I am reading "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.  It is beautifully written, almost poetic.  It is a book meant to be savored, to be read slowly, carefully, richly.  I am totally enjoying savoring each thought and considering each idea.  I am only about a quarter of the way through this book and already it is changing me.  (How is that for a book recommendation?)

One thought that has been absolutely changing my life is this,

"Life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change."

This sentence really got me thinking.  Many times when I am praying, I am actually telling God what to do!  Sure I thank Him for some things - but there is almost always the "now do this" list that follows.  I am always pushing, always striving, alway planning, always pushing forward.

My prayers may go something like this:

"God, thank you for my many blessings.  Thank you for my incredible kids, my husband.  Thank you that we have enough food to eat.  Thank you for the wonderful time I had with the kids at the park today.  God, the kids start school soon.  Please grant them friends and kind teachers.  Please bless our business.  Provide for ou Father.  Show us the way to go.  Bless the sale of our house.  Please provide a buyer and clearly show us where to go next...."

I am not saying this is a bad prayer.  I know God loves to hear from me.  I know He wants to hear all my worries.  I know He listens.

But there is something about JUST being thankful... resting in all He has done... all He has provided... being content... trusting in all He has promised... fully submitting.

There are a lot of decisions being made in our family right now.  Big ones, the kind that keep me awake long into the night wondering what is right.  Day care or preschool?  Buy or build?  New job or not?  Trade vehicles?  Bus or drive?  There is a never ending to do list.  Krissy needs to go to the eye doctor.  Jamison needs a haircut.  The girls need jeans for school.  Joshua needs preschool supplies.  I need to catch up at work.  House needs cleaning.  Lawn needs mowing.  Bills need paying.  Emails need answering.  Calls need to be made.

My life is feeling pretty out of control.

Yet when I CHOOSE to rest in thankfulness, my anxious thoughts disappear.

My constant prayer these past days has been simple,

"Father God.  Thank you that you have a plan for me, for Chad, for our business, for our home, for our children.  Thank you that it is a plan that will prosper us, not harm us.  Thank you that you promise to give us hope and a future."

Each time I get a serious case of the "what if's"  I repeat this prayer and my spirit is calmed.  As I rest in true thankfulness and soak in His promises, I am granted much peace.  God does not need me to tell him what to do and how and when to act.  He has my whole future written, it is full of stuff that will bring Him glory, stuff that will draw me closer to Him.  And closer to Him is exactly where I want to be.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Family Vacation 2011

We spent an amazing week at Cass Lake with all of Chad's siblings, their families, Chad's mom, and his Uncle Jim and his family!  

It was our first ever extended family vacation, and it was wonderful!  I am so very lucky to truly adore and enjoy my in-laws.

Here are my favorite moments from our week!

The lodge had a big water trampoline.
It was in fairly shallow water... the older kids could walk to it... but it was too deep for Joshua.

So his super siblings pushed him out in a canoe so he could jump too!
They made sure he was safe
AND having FUN!
One of Grammy's favorite parts about the beach was the ducks who came begging for a treat.

Not being too much of an animal tamer, these birds by my feet freaked me out!  I did manage to stay in my seat, but I was much more relaxed when the ducks left! 
Brenna and Kaden gave us a little scare when they climbed WAY too high in a HUGE tree!  They are fearless climbers and saw nothing freaky about it.  
The grandkids talked Grammy into making them (and us!) french toast one morning for breakfast.  Yummy! 
All the cousins had a great time together.
Above are Tyler (who is nearly 15!) and Jamison. 
Joshua had never been able to spend much time with his Cousin Addisyn (who is 4).  He had such a great time getting to know her! 
Sierra is a baby magnet!
She grabbed baby Ahlera every chance she got!
Joshua though she was pretty special, too!
All the hard play made for loooong naps!
Joshua slept in his own bed all week AND did a super job of going to sleep!   
Daddy had to do way more work during this vacation than we had wished.  That was stinky and stressful!  Luckily he has a very good "off switch!"  He does a really good job of blocking out stressful details and enjoying the moment!  
One of the surprises at Cass Lake was... 

The kids were totally fascinated with them!
Kaden, Sierra, and Brenna spent hours catching them. 
Jamison and Tyler had a few crawfish fights! 
And then my good natured hubby boiled them up!

Eating them was a little gory! 
But they sure tasted good!

Kaden was the head crayfish hunter.  He negotiated with Uncle Chad until they agreed on a "price" of 10 cents per crayfish.  He totally cracks us up!
One of the best parts of the week was hanging out with Reed and Emily.  We have not been able to see them much since they moved to another state around 5 years ago. We have really missed them, which made 6 days together such a treat! 
JOshua gave Uncle Reed a little competition.  He really liked Auntie Emily.  One night Joshua even sneaked Uncle Reed's spot next to Emily at the campfire.  Uncle Reed is a very kind and patient man, but I think he may have been happy when Gubs went to bed that night. :) 
Auntie Emily also taught Joshua how to flip!

We all had sooo much fun in the water!
JOshua loved pushing the canoe around in the shallow water. 
Sand is always a hit!
And where there is sand, there is someone being buried in it!  sIERRA WENT FIRST. 
She cane out of her "Bed" caked with gritty sand!
Brenna had the next turn. 
Finally, our little copy-cat had a turn! 
One day we played at an Island/sandbar.
The kids took turns swinging from a rope like Tarzan... or maybe Jane?!? 
Sierra sliding in! 
Krissy helped Joshua try out the lay-down tube.
Our fearless water-bug LOVED it! 
AND Jamison rocked the wakeboard!
He had a lot of fun boarding with Uncle Reed, Uncle Jeremy, and Auntie Teresa. 
Can you even believe how high his jump is getting?

Every time I watch him board he gets better.  It is really fun! 
Joshua is too little to jump with a wakeboard, so he has to jump off the back of the boat instead!
I think Joshua's very favorite part of our trip was playing with Callie, Uncle Reed and Auntie Emily's dog.  He banged on their cabin door and begged to walk Callie every chance he got.  We were never really sure if he walked Callie, or if she walked him though!

One night when I was tucking Joshua into bed he told me, "Joshua walking walking Callie.  I walk Callie so much.  Callie pull you Joshua!  Joshua pull you Callie.  Joshua working hard!  Joshua legs are hurting really, really bad from at working so much!"

Good-bye's always come too soon.  Brenna and Kaden stayed up way late enjoying every last moment before we had to say farewell!
But eventually we had to leave the lake!
Hopefully we will all be together again soon,
sitting around a campfire and staring at the moon!

Thank you Grammy, Teresa, Jeremy, Ryan, Miranda, Addisyn, Ainsley, Ahlera, Jim, Darcy, Maria, Isaac, Reed, Emily, Tyler, and Kaden for all the wonderful memories made at Cass Lake last week.  We love you each so much and cherish our moments together!