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

Monday, August 31, 2015

41 Looks Good on Him

Chad turned 41 today.  
 I teased him that at our age it is cheaper to buy 2 candles than the 41 required.
He made fun of me taking his picture while we sang "Happy Birthday" to him.
 And then he very carefully blew out just one candle...
(signifying he still has a girlfriend.)
I love when he flirts with me.

The kids groan and make all sorts of rude comments - but secretly, they love it too.

Right kids?!?
 Wyatt was (perhaps) the guest of honor!
Chad told him, "Dude!  It's really not fair.  You are showing me up on my birthday!  You have WAY more hair than Grandpa does!"
 Wyatt thought he was pretty hilarious!
TayTay decided she needed to be a part of the fun, too.
She is never far from her nephew. . . or from her daddy, for that matter!
 Our entertainment for the evening was supposed to be my dad.  He was showing his horse in Texas at a huge show.  It was broadcast live on the web.  Mataya nearly flipped when she discovered that "neighs" could be found on my computer.  She was so excited.  She laughed and laughed.

(And yes, she is sitting on the counter.  She is a monkey.  I have never had a climber before.  This little lady keeps us hopping!)
Chad got home from work in time to hook the computer up to the big TV.  We were so excited to watch Grandpa!

Unfortunately this is as much of my dad's ride as we saw.


Just as he was up to rein, my computer froze.  We missed his entire ride, except for his final stop.  Boo!

In the end, Chad's birthday was like every day.  Busy.  Noisy.  Full of laughter and a few arguments.  The food was above average, and he did get gifts - but the day was really fairly ordinary.

Chad, however, is far from ordinary.

You, Chad, are the bravest person I know.  You are calm in the face of chaos.  You make business decisions that I would never have the courage to make.  I think your iron will and extreme courage is what I like best (and what freaks me out the most) about you.  You never give up.  You rarely take no for an answer.  You can fix anything.  You work hard and play hard.  You cook like a chef.  You tickle better than any other daddy (and granddaddy) there ever was.  You laugh at your own jokes until we join you.  You love loud movies, especially if the kids watch with you.  You are determined and kind.  You back a trailer better than anyone I have ever met.  You see beauty in a mess, and eventually the rest of us do as well.  You know me and love me more and better than anyone ever has or ever will. You are my hero, Chad Dietrich.  I am so thankful to walk through each day holding your hand.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Back to School 2015

In sticking with tradition, photos were taken on this, the first day of school.

Grade 10

(Sierra had an OK day.  One thing that is very hard about fall is that she is no longer able to cheer.  Though she had hoped that cheering would be possible post-surgery, she has been advised by her surgeon to quit permanently.  That is a hard pill to swallow.  She is doing it with much grace - but seeing her cheer friends along with being asked by all her teachers what her hobby is. . . just plain hurt.  Cheering used to be her hobby and a big part of her identity.  Having that removed, along with almost all other athletics, is painful.  On a bright note, she had a super first day at work!  She is very excited about her job as a BLAST (after school club) leader.)
Grade 1
(He had an awesome day!  He even came home with a paper which included a photograph that he allowed his teacher to take.  He was all smiles and stories.)
Grade 7
I always say in grade 7 all the little leaves a girl.  Sigh.  It has happened yet again.
(Brenna had a wonderful first day of school!  She is excited about her teachers and thoroughly enjoyed seeing her friends.)
Grade 12
(School was fine. . . the real focus of his day was the XC meet which followed, which I will highlight below.)

And after they were all gone, momma cried.

I hate back to school.  Home is where I like my kids best!

Summer is most certainly busy and chaotic and exhausting.  I am always moving, always cooking, always driving, always listening, always wondering when I can squeeze in a bit of "real" work - but it is also my favorite!

I was so thankful for Mataya today.

Her initial reaction to everyone leaving was tears!  She was so confused and alarmed when everyone was up and leaving so early - but once the dust cleared, she was the most peaceful I have seen her in forever.  She played happily at my office while I worked.  She helped me clean once we got home.  She talked and sang and danced with me.  We read books and watered flowers.  And she napped longer than she had in months.  It was precious!

After school, and a few errands, we headed to Jamison's first cross-country race of the year.

The highlight of the race, for me, was watching this team support each other. They have a very special and united feel this season.  From the team huddle, to the way they "fived" each other during run downs, the feel was one of "we are in this together!"  When a team is a team, great things are in store.

 Jamison had a solid race.  Not his best or worst ever - just solid.  A good way to start the season.
(And yes!  He beat the Demon to the finish!)

Jamison is blessed with some really great friends.  They came bearing banners, smiles, hugs, and loud cheers.  I am so very thankful for the freindships my son has!

To say it was a loooong and crazy day is an understatement!  But, all in all, it was more GOOD than bad, for which I am very thankful!

Thank you for praying for us.  God is faithful, and I am grateful.

I don't know about you, but I am hoping for a lazy weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Trauma Triggers

School starts tomorrow.


I adore my crew at home.  I do NOT celebrate them heading back to the classroom.

I had expected this year's back to school transition to be simple since no one changes schools!  Though a bit of back to school anxiety it completely natural, I had expected smooth sailing.

Until this morning. . .

Joshua had a total melt down at the thought of his open house.  He burried his head into the couch pillows and announced that "he was NOT going, and I could NOT make him."

All before 8 am.


So first I listened to his worries.  Then I tried to soothe them.  He would have none of it.  It was his way or no way.  So. . . I told him until he was done complaining and threatening me, he needed to go to his room.

Five minutes later he came down with a plan that we both found most excellent.

I (again) assumed we would have smooth sailing.


We walked into his classroom, and his teacher greeted us with a smile and the news that before he left she would like to take his picture.


Photos continue to be a trauma trigger for Joshua.  Though he sometimes behaves like a stinker,many times photos truly trigger fear and sadness in our son.  All those times he was forced to smile for pictures while holding up a card with his name on it while living in the orphanage caused deep feelings of fear, helplessness, loneliness, and who knows what else.  I may have loved those pictures in the moment, but I have certainly regretted them since!  They only hold memories of terror for my son.

Since it was not appropriate to share all that with his teacher in front of him today, I simply told her he hates photos and asked her to snap one with him hiding behind me...

Nope, not a bit awkward.

Let me be honest (and heartless) here.  I was not in the mood for awkward today.  I really wanted simple.

Wish denied.

Anyway. . . when we got to the car, I reminded Joshua that photos are necessary sometimes.  We spoke honestly about why he feels the feelings he does.  I reassured him that he is no longer alone.  He has a mommy and daddy who love him like crazy.  And we will do our very best to protect him.  Always.  Then we spoke about expectations.  He was mad.  He was pensive.  As was I.

Later this evening, he asked me to take a photo and email it to his teacher.  I did.

And I expected that the rest of the evening would be smooth sailing.

Until he threw a monster fit about taking a shower. . .


My evening is ending with an email to his teacher, trying to explain him without over-explaining him.

This is my attempt:

Hi Mrs. S,

It was fun to meet you today.  Believe it or not, Joshua is usually a very social and outgoing child. Ha!

I wanted to explain a bit about Joshua and photos.  Joshua was born in Ethiopia.  His first years were very, very hard.  We adopted him when he was 2.5.  He was very delayed on every level - but his emotional stunting was probably the hardest for us to work through.  At this point there are very few times when he struggles emotionally.  Photos are one of his triggers.

When he was living in an orphanage (I hate that word in connection with my son), strangers visited often.  They always took lots and lots of photos.  He had no right to say "no."  To this day, photos often cause him to freeze and hide.  I believe they trigger the scared and unprotected feelings he had as an orphan.  BUT - that does not mean it is not OK to take his photo. He is now in a place where he is capable of handling those feelings.  We explain to him that there are times when everyone has to have their photo taken, and at those times, we expect him to be kind and polite.  We also allow him to be in charge of whether or not photos are taken whenever possible.

When we got to the car, I reminded him that today was a time when photos needed to be taken.  And I explained that although he may feel weird feelings, he is loved and protected and safe.  He is big enough and strong enough to handle those feelings.  I also told him that there will be times at school when photos are optional.  He will often have the right to say, "please do not take my picture."

As you saw today, this is a skill we are working on.   If you would help us by providing opportunities for him to say no, along with times that photos are part of his class expectations, we would appreciate it.  There are times in which his response is bad behavior and other times in which fear just creeps in.  In time, his trust in you  will grow and your ability to read his reaction will as well. Today he was somewhere in the middle.  He could have made the choice to be kind and polite - but he allowed fear and control to take over.  After he and I visited, he asked me to send you a picture of him to use for the class project. I have attached it. 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me!  I have learned so very much about childhood trauma in the years I have been parenting Joshua.  I am no expert, but I am his best advocate.  And - I have no "excuse" for his lack of interest in art projects and writing!  He has a few quirks. . . like all kids.  Typically. he is a very fun boy.  We are so thankful that he is our son, imperfections and all!

I hope you have a wonderful first day of school!  Thanks in advance for loving our boy as only his first grade teacher can.  It will be an exciting year.

Alicia D


please be praying for my kids tomorrow.  When it comes to transitions, anxiety is normal and there is no easy!

JG has chosen to ride the bus.  Please pray that all is well in the morning.  And that his day goes smoothly.

Brenna has not been feeling great today.  Please pray for health and strength.

Sierra starts both school and a job tomorrow!  Please pray for joy, energy, and peace.

Jamison has his first day of school and his first XC race of the season.  Please pray for fun, speed, and focus.

Mataya and I will head to the office.  Please pray for calm.

My prayer for my kids this school year has been that they see their year through a "for such a time as this" perspective and seek to serve God no matter what is thrown into their path.  That is a BIG prayer.  It is a good thing we serve a BIG God.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Wyatt's Baptism

Our precious grandson was baptized this evening.  The private ceremony took place in the same church as his daddy's baptism.  He wore his daddy's baptismal outfit, and he was wrapped in the same blanket that my brother and I, and then all of our children were wrapped in on our (their?) baptism days... making Wyatt the third generation to share it!  All the family "heirlooms"  were very special to Wyatt's grandmas and great-grandmas.

 (Great) Grammy Angie

 Auntie Brenna and Auntie Rah

 Wyatt's Grandma Tonya served cake and ice cream after the ceremony.
 (Great) Grandma Donna
 He is so good with eye contact!  He is starting to tell us stories (coo) and smiles often.

With Auntie TayTay running around like the busy one and a half year old that she is, this is the end of my photos.  But I did get to snuggle this little prince to sleep before I left him.  Sigh.

Wyatt John,

I love you so, precious one.  I began praying for you long before I knew you were on the way.  After your momma told me you were growing in her belly, I started praying Ephesians 3:18 over you.  "May you, my beloved grandson, have the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is."  His love is the key, precious one.  The key to all happiness.  The key to all joy.  The key to peace and freedom and acceptance and all else that you will ever need.  Every day that I am living, I will be praying that very verse over you.  Always and forever.  May you live and serve under the wing of His love, always and forever.

All my love,

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Full Lap = A Full Heart

It was a cra-cra-crazy week. Sigh.  Work was. . . interesting. . .  Family life was busy.  Back to school preparations are time and energy consuming!  AND Sierra and I decided to redo her room. . . on the fly.  Yikes!  I definitely over-committed - but we survived it.

The BEST part of the  week were the moments I was able to spend one on one with my kids.  Brenna and I spent a whole day together shopping and painting.  (Thanks Grammy!)  AND I was also able to spend more time than usual with these littles.  When my lap is full, my heart is happy.  
Wyatt is 2 months old.  He is beginning to smile - or so I am told! (Thus far he only smiles at his momma and his grandpa.)  He is outgrowing all his clothes and turning into a delightful little chub with the cutest curls in the universe.  He is CONTENT and takes most everything in stride.  He is a joy and a delight.

Krissy had mentioned that he had outgrown all his pajamas, so LaLa did a little shopping!  I adore baby jams.  Really, is there anything sweeter?  

I had the honor of giving Wyatt a bath and dressing him in his new jammies.  After he was dressed I realized that Mataya had the exact same pajamas, only in pink, hanging in her closet.  Sooooo, twinsies they were!  Oh, they are hurt my heart cute.  And seriously, how many aunties can twin with their nephew?  
 Krissy let us babysit for a bit, so I sat on the porch snuggling Wyatt while the kids played baseball.  

LaLa loves you, Wyatt John!  You are such a sweet snuggler.
 Auntie TayTay LOVES to kiss Wyatt.  When she sees him, or when she sees a picture of him, she immediately starts smacking her lips and begging to kiss his curls.  She is growing in her ability to be gentle with him.  His eyes are the ultimate temptation.  That and his paci.  She grabs his paci right out of his mouth and runs as fast as her legs will go, giggling.  She thinks it is soooo funny, until we get to her and take away the paci.  Then she throws herself into a limp heap of noisy tears.  (Fit throwing is her new hobby... but only when she does not get her way.  LOL!)
Mataya actually did a great job playing with Wyatt.  She was very careful and so very happy to see him playing.  She is totally intrigued with babies and toddlers.  She wants friends her size, as she spends most of her time with big people.  It is fun to see her trying to interact with little people everywhere we go.  She even chose to stay in the nursery at church one Sunday.  She is by far the most outgoing toddler we have ever had.  
Krissy handles all of Mataya's baby love so well.  It is a bit nerve wracking at times, as Mataya is so eager and yet so incapable - but she adores him and she is trying hard to learn just how to share her love.  And her momma!  Once in a while Wyatt has to get passed back to his momma or one of his very eager older aunties because Auntie TayTay tires of sharing - but all in all this one and a half year old auntie is doing great.

I shake my head often as God's timing.  

Had we known we would be grandparents so soon, we probably would not have chosen to have Mataya.  And yet, having Mataya has prepared us to be Wyatt's grandparents (and me to be Krissy's mom right now) in so many ways.  Our family dynamic is unique, and unexpected - but it is beautiful.  I never expected to parent alongside my daughter, to swap advice and babysitting, to be peers in this way, and yet it is so good.

Mataya and Wyatt are such gifts.  I am so thankful for the sovereignty of God.  I am so thankful that He is in control, that He always has a plan, and that His mercies are new every morning.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Girl Time at the Lake

Last week I asked Chad if he would drive the camper up to the lake for me.  The forecast was lovely, and I thought it would be really special to spend some time at the lake with my girls.  We declared Thursday and Friday "Girls' Day" at the lake.  It was a precious time.

Mataya and I arrived Wednesday night.  We woke up, snuggled in my bed, made coffee, prayed over the day, and went for a stroller job before the big girls arrived.

Sierra and Brenna love photography.  So, I told them to arrive Thursday looking pretty and we would go take some lake pics.  The results are stunning, just like my girls.

After pictures we made lunch.

While Mataya napped, we sun bathed and read the entire book of Esther.  We did not try to dissect it verse for verse - but instead, we simply enjoyed the story.  I will be praying that my girls rise to the challenges that God plants in their path this year.  May "for such a time as this" guide their school year.

After Mataya woke up, we went into the camper and watched a movie.

While we watched the movie, Mataya dug in my closet and joyfully played dress-up with my workout clothes.  She thought she was the funniest thing ever.

After supper, we did a lake workout.

We ran intervals in the water.  It was hard and hilarious.  Mataya is an absolute water beetle so she loved us toting her through the water while we aqua-jogged.  Anything done with Sierra turns silly, so she had me laughing so hard my side hurt even before I was breathing hard.

After our work-out, we took "cowboy showers" AKA bathing in the lake.

Then we headed to a nearby town for an ice cream treat!

We returned to the lake and went on a quest to catch the setting sun.

 Followed by a sunset game of "get you get you,"  Mataya's current favorite!

 She waddles until her little legs give out and she takes a digger.  Her legs are covered in scratches - but she is always ready to go again!

Then it was time to head inside the camper...

to read Mataya about a million books before tucking her into her bunk.

Then Sierra, Brenna, and I snuggled into my big bed and watched another movie.

It was such a precious day to me.  So often when I am with my girls we have a to do list.  We have school shopping to do, or an appointment to attend, etc...  For one full day, we had nothing we had to do.  We rested.  We laughed.  We soaked in the sun and each other.

It was beautiful.  Just like my girls.