Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

We wish you and your family a very blessed and merry Christmas from our house to yours...

In honor of all that God has done for us this past year, I would like to share with you the poem I wrote last year as we waited to bring Isaac and Jocelyn home. I hope you enjoy...

Our One Last Silent Night

It has been calm at the Organ's for the last 14 years...
Something we haven't held so dear
This year a blessing has come from our Savior who heard us speak...
Please Lord, give us the pitter patter of little feet
Who would have ever thought the answer would be two...
The God of the Universe that's who!

Preparations began from quilts and a painted room...
To tons of paperwork, oh there was so much to do
Now everything is complete...
Waiting for papers from Ethiopia is our next big feat
The hope of traveling in December has come and gone...
For a while disappointment ran long
Until we remembered our prayer to God...
To fill Isaac and Jocelyn full of His love
To keep them warm and safe...
Until that special date when we meet them face to face

His peace surrounds us as we sit and ponder...
When will that day be when we will see our little wonders?
January, February, oh how much longer?
Hurry Ethiopia we plead
For we long to see our babies....
So we can meet their every need
We pray for a miracle...
To travel a day real soon
Not just for us but all families longing for children to fill their homes too

Our prayer is the same, please Lord some day soon
Fill our home with the tune...
Of squeels and giggles
The sounds of joyous laughter...
And a happy ever after
Our prayer is the same, please Lord some day soon
Fill our home too...
With babies being rocked to sleep
The joy of God's love shared so deep...
Between us and our two little sweet peas

Yes, we sit and wait for that wonderful day...
When we receive notification of our travel date
Then with a joy filled sigh and a glimmer in our eye...
We will  know it will soon be our one last silent night.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tree of Tradition Part I

I absolutely love Christmas. I love everything about it. I love having a season to celebrate our Savior’s birth. I love the parties and spending time with friends and family. I love all the photos we get with updates from friends and family near and far. I love the sound of the Salvation Army bell ringers, a beautiful reminder to help those in need. I love our traditions like making the first batch of fudge the day after Thanksgiving. But by far my favorite traditions involve our Christmas tree.

Every year the weekend of Thanksgiving we head to our favorite tree farm to pick out our Christmas tree. Every year we go with my parents and pick out a tree for us, them and my Grandma. I love supporting local farms and we love the smell a fresh cut Christmas tree in our home.

Of course this year was made extra special because of our two sweet peas in tow. They were not sure what to think of the whole experience. They kept nodding at Grandma to take them for another spin in the radio flyer (thank goodness we remembered to bring it).

But everything changed when Daddy began cutting down our Christmas tree. They got very quiet and no longer wanted Grandma to take them for another ride. Our sweet peas sat and watched intently as the first tree fell. Jocelyn gave it an “ooooooh” while Isaac watched quietly. By the time Daddy began cutting down the third tree Jocelyn knew she was a pro at this and began instructing Daddy on how to cut the tree down. Her poor future husband, he doesn’t stand a chance. I can already see her telling him how to cut down their Christmas tree!

After cutting the trees down and setting them beside the road, we headed back to the barn to wait for the tractor to go get our trees.

Jocelyn loved the tree shaker. This is where they sit the tree on a base and the machine shakes the tree to get out all of the loose needles. She felt pretty confident after seeing one done and began instructing the workers on how to do their job.

We headed to Great Grandma’s house shortly after to unload her Christmas tree and give our sweet peas more time to run around while the sun was out. All in all it was a beautiful day. Below you will find more pictures from our great tree adventure.

Nothing like a little argument on which way to go

They weren't too sure what to think of sitting on the tractor with Daddy

The many faces of Isaac:


The many faces of Jocelyn:

Grandpa teaching them how to fist pump:

Merry Christmas everyone. May you enjoy celebrating our Savior's birth!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I realize it has been well over a week since the last time I posted. And yes, there is a reason for my silence. When I created my blog, I wanted it to be about everything this side of heaven. Obviously with our life now centered on our children the blog has also centered on our children. I keep thinking one of these days I will watch the news or have a stimulating conversation that does not involve potty training and what type of vegetables our children will eat. Then I could blog about something important, controversial, and make you/me think. But I realize as our family has had some real struggles this week that my blog could still be about something important, controversial and make you/me think. It just won’t be about the war, our president or any other number of subjects that pricks the hairs on the back of people’s necks. Instead I will choose another subject that just so happens to be at the heart of my life right now.

I have contemplated about sharing my/our struggles this week with you. I have been afraid that I might offend someone or that my feelings will be too raw or personal for some. But then I look over my blog and remind myself of why I started it in the first place. I started it to share with others the journey of life. My goal has always been to be honest…even if that means we may not agree. Even if that means that all of my posts aren’t about sharing cute pictures or funny little stories. If life was that surreal there would be no need for the self help section at the local book store and all psychologists/psychiatrists would be without a job.

So…here I go. This post may or may not make you angry and it may or may not offend you but I will not apologize. This blog is my little corner of the blog world where I will freely share my feelings and views even if they are not shared by all. More than anything, I hope this post will give you a chance to think and maybe see things from a perspective you may or may not be familiar with.

Can I just tell you that parenting adopted children is NOT the same as parenting birth children? It is not the same, it is not the same, it is not the same! I know many of you are sitting there saying “how would you know? You don’t have any birth children.” I do not need to have any birth children to be able to see the difference. There are thousands of books out there that address parenting from the perspective of birth children. Reading them alone clues me in that there is a difference. But I also have the privilege of knowing many people (friends, family, etc…) who do have birth children. I have also babysat many of those same children. I have been preparing to be a mother (or so I thought I was) for many, many years. And it is NOT the same!

Do you hear the frustration in my words? Do you know tears well up in my eyes as I try to write this? Can you hear how tired am I? If you can’t let me just tell you I that am. I am so tired of so many things right now.

I am so tired of people being around my children for a few minutes and then saying “they have adjusted so well” or “see Kelli you have nothing to worry about they are just fine. They’re normal.” Really? How can anyone be in the presence of another person for a few minutes or maybe a half hour and evaluate their total being as adjusted or normal? It is so frustrating. And I am tired of trying to educate people as to why they are not just fine and that they have not completely adjusted.

These fragile little beings are not quick fixes. You can’t pick them up and dust off the last 20 months of abandonment/attachment issues and say “all better.” Do you know what it is like to try to get a toddler to understand they do not need to be afraid? Do you know how hard it is to try to help them understand they are safe, secure and they do not need to fear us leaving them?

Go anywhere online and take a minute to study the importance of the first 12 months of a child’s life and you will learn that a great deal of how a child gets wired happens in those first 12 months. In those first 12 months this child is wired (or learns) whether or not their needs will be met when they are hungry, when they are afraid, when they need to be changed, when they need love, etc… So why is this so important and makes such a difference? Because in a child who lives in a healthy environment with his/her birth parents all of that child’s needs are met. That child is wired to know he/she is safe, secure, fed, and cared for. There has been no traumatic experience (again in a healthy birth family) that would make this child question or fear their needs being met.

Many children who experience certain trauma and or conditions in the first 36 months of life can have attachment issues or what is also called Reactive Attachment Disorder. There are approximately 10 or so conditions that will leave a child ripe for attachment problems. Of these 10 or so conditions Isaac has experienced at least 5 and I believe Jocelyn has experienced 6. It is painful to admit. It is painful to know that all professionals in the field of early childhood development agree on this one thing…these event/conditions cause trauma. After reading an article the other night I also came to realize that Jocelyn’s clinging to me those first few days was not out of immediate attachment but out of sheer terror from Post Traumatic Stress. It is hard to swallow that one of the most wonderful days for Hubby and me was probably one of the most traumatizing things for our daughter.

I am tired of hearing that raising an adoptive child is no different than a birth child. It is NOT the same! How can anyone see the two the same? A child coming from a healthy birth family has had a completely different experience than a child that has been orphaned and adopted. I will stick to my sweet peas to explain. Our little ones lost their mother when they were 3 months old. As far as we know she loved them and never planned to give them up. The father who had no clean water to be able to feed them formula gave them to a missionary asking the missionary to find them a family. Within the first 3 months of life our beautiful precious sweet peas lost their mother and father.

They were sick with yellow fever and underweight from not having formula. The missionary cared for them until they were well enough to go to the orphanage. A month or so later they were transferred. After approximately 6 months at the orphanage they were transferred to another orphanage due to some unfortunate circumstances. They were then transferred to a transition orphanage just before we adopted them. Have you counted how many moves? Have you counted how many people they loved and began trusting and attaching to before they were moved once again?

5 moves in the first 20 months of life…this does not include the move to our home!

6 care givers in the first 20 months of life…before we ever met them

…5 times they went through being moved to a new place, new smells, new sounds where nothing was familiar to them.

….6 times they had to put their lives in the hands of someone they didn’t know. Six times they had to begin to trust again that the care giver would meet their needs.

How can anyone say raising them (or any other adopted child) would be the same as a child who has only known one set of parents who have been a constant in their lives?

An article by Jessica Gerard gives a tiny glimpse into why life is so different for a child who has faced trauma. For our sweet peas the trauma has been the loss of care givers, home, sickness, and other things I will choose to keep to myself. In her article Jessica states the following:
Professionals who deal with children with attachment, reactive attachment disorder and post traumatic disorder do not agree on much. But one thing they do agree on because there is so many studies/research to prove it is that children with these conditions in the first year of their life end up with brains that are completely wired different. Some studies state that if their brains are not re-wired by the age of 6, the damage is permanent.
"Because these children lack a loving family to mediate traumatic experiences, and because the traumatic experience may persists for weeks and months, they cause long-term changes in the brain. These early traumas remain stored in the brain, and they will experience the same traumatic arousal when a later situation reminds them of that first trauma. Because their brains are flooded once again with the stress chemicals, and they focus again on surviving the trauma, they are incapable of thinking or doing anything else."

You CAN NOT raise an adopted child the same. If the child has experienced abuse, spanking will most likely feel like abuse. If the child has experienced abandonment, shutting that child in their room for a time out will most like trigger fears of abandonment. I could go on and on with tons of scenarios but these are the easy ones.

What I am most tired of right now are the things that are so hard to information on like toddler specific issues. Do you know how hard it is to try and understand if you are dealing with a “normal” toddler issue or if you are dealing with a stress/trauma triggering issue? Last Sunday we saw such an awesome high with Jocelyn to only feel like we have plummeted back to when we first brought them home. Eating issues that have always been present have gone to a whole new level. I have reverted back to holding her while she eats and have started to “bottle” feed her at least once a day.

It is hard to understand what has happened. It is even more frustrating trying to find answers and help. What adds to the frustration is that those who specialize in this field can’t agree. Sometimes their recommendations are polar opposites. You will find many criticizing anyone who does not believe in their method. But as frustrating as it is for me it has to be 10 times more frustrating for Jocelyn. I can’t imagine what she must be going through and I fear that my inadequacies and inability to handle things well at times just adds to her stress. I am left to ponder many things. I wonder…maybe she is finally at a safe enough place to feel the emotions inside of her…maybe learning to trust us scares her…maybe she is afraid we will abandon her soon…maybe…maybe…maybe. No matter what, I long for her to be healed. I long to understand so I can meet her needs.

One last comment: If you see around town and you have read this post, don’t be surprised if you don’t see anything different in Jocelyn. Like most children with attachment issues, these issues come out while trying to connect with their primary care givers. It is why so many adoptive families feel the need to connect with each other. It is hard to get others to understand what they cannot see.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Break Through

There has been one question that has plagued us every Sunday since we have been home from Ethiopia. When should we start transitioning our sweet peas into the nursery at our church? It has been a struggle every week. We have worked hard on attachment so we do not want to do anything that would unravel all of our hard work. But have you ever tried sitting through church with a toddler? Have you ever tried sitting through church with 2 toddlers?

In all honesty I have not gotten one thing out of Sunday service since we have been back. How can I or Hubby for that matter concentrate when we are busy trying to keep our kids busy while still being quiet. This gets a little harder too when Jocelyn decides that whoever is praying is taking too long. If someone’s prayer is past what she deems necessary she clearly says “Amen” in the middle of their prayer. It is a good thing she looks so darn cute while doing it. Most people just snicker and smile.

Last Sunday when we only made through worship time before Isaac began to get rowdy we decided to take them to the nursery and sit in the nursery with them. I will admit that I am the one that pushed for it. Charlie tends to be more reserved while this stay at home Mommy is longing for an hour of time in God’s house without a really cute wiggly daughter on her lap. To be honest they did quite well. Of course it helped that we were there sitting on the floor while they watched and played with other toddlers in the room.

This Sunday I was more than ready for Isaac and Jocelyn to go into the nursery for service. I am still having days (every once in a while) where it is hard for me to adjust. Saturday was one of those days. So…Sunday I was ready to actually worship and hear God’s Word minus our sweet peas.

We took them into the nursery and Hubby kept them busy while I signed us in. We noticed a small window of opportunity where they were both watching the other kids play so we snuck out of the nursery. Hubby and I told them to not let them cry for more than 5 minutes before getting us. We did not want them having separation anxiety overload. A nursery to them looks an awful lot like an orphanage (except with toys). As we rounded the corner of the hallway I could hear someone crying…”don’t listen” I kept telling myself. I tried to convince myself it wasn’t Jocelyn but I knew it was. I didn’t say anything to Hubby because I knew he would turn around and go get them. My only goal was 5 minutes in service without them.

I won’t lie it was hard to focus in service. I was worried about them…wondering if they thought we had abandoned them…wondering if we were doing this too soon. I kept checking the pager they gave us to make sure it was on and it was. The worship service was now over and Pastor Neil was speaking…

Seriously, do they not know where to find us? Our little sweet peas couldn’t possibly make it through service could they? I scribble a note on a piece of paper and hand it to Charlie letting him know I want to leave before service ends so we can see how they are interacting with the other kids. I was also worried they might get scared if they saw other parents picking up their kids if we were not there.

We get down to the nursery and never got the chance to see them playing because by chance Jocelyn happened to be looking at the door just when we got there. Her response triggers Isaac to look up. Can I just say I love seeing Isaac react to seeing his Daddy? It is a beautiful sight. One I wish everyone could behold. My son needs his Mommy but he adores, adores, and adores his Daddy. He usually yells “Daddy” amidst giggles and running in place with shear excitement. He was thrilled to us and couldn’t wait to cuddle up to Daddy. Jocelyn’s reaction was totally opposite. She instantly was distressed and had her arms up letting me know she needed to be held.

It was good to see that they had been in the same room with Melissa who heads up the pre-school ministry. Our sweet peas our familiar with her since she is our friend, has been at our house and is in our Sunday School Class. She informed us that they did great. They were crying when she got down to the nursery so she took them with her into the room with older toddlers. I think it was just what they needed – a familiar face to help subside their fears.

But the most amazing thing is what happened after church. And yes I realize this is a long post to finally get to my point but I thought it was important for you to understand what was going on to fully appreciate what took place next. Hubby and I came to the conclusion pretty quickly that Jocelyn had a break through Sunday. So what is a break through you ask? Well…it is when we can see an undeniable change in one of our sweet peas for the better. What is even more amazing about this breakthrough is that it comes on the heels of a really hard day for Jocelyn. Last Wednesday we could tell something was wrong but we didn’t know what. You could see the sadness and distress in her eyes.

So Sunday was amazing. We believe Jocelyn has come to a whole new level of security. We believe she finally has realized that we are not going to abandon her. She was so relaxed and happy after we picked her up from the nursery. In fact her constant jibber jabber from her car seat was non-stop. She would talk, laugh then say “hi” while smiling at me. For the first time since bringing her home we saw her 100% relaxed. She was so happy it was like someone had fed her a pound of sugar and had her wash it down with a 2 liter of Pepsi. In fact we couldn’t get her to sleep for her nap. She laid in bed hanging on to the crib rails swinging her legs back and forth saying “Na Na Na Na Na.” It took three trips into their room to settle her down and she still only slept about 30-40 minutes (by the way that is not enough sleep for her).

This new relaxed, overly excited, extra talkative (if that’s even possible) Jocelyn continued on into the night as we headed to my parents house to help them with a few things. She only needed reassurance one time as to where Mommy had gone. The rest of the time she spent laughing and playing with her Grandma worry free 100% relaxed.

We know we will continue to see changes. Most people in the field of adoption will tell you it takes a good year for a child to truly believe they will not be abandoned. Hubby and I believe this is very true and Hubby has a great deal of experience in this area since he wasn’t adopted until the age of 5. We know becoming a family is a process. Each day brings new adventures and joys. And some days bring with it an unexpected break through that fill our hearts with unspeakable joy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Day of Thanksgiving

I will not has been a very emotional day for me. Yep, I get teary eyed pretty easily these days and today was no exception. I found myself many times having to choke back my tears. I have dreamed of this day for a very long time. Hubby and me celebrating Thanksgiving with little ones in tow. I loved every bit of today from organizing the diaper bag to deciding which toys to take to Great Grandma's house. Each step of the way I was holding back the tears. I had to swallow hard to keep from crying when Charlie prayed over dinner and gave thanks for celebrating this year with our sweet peas. I have never been so content or so excited to celebrate this amazing time of the year than right now.

This year was extra special because this is the last year my Grandma plans on cooking Thanksgiving. I think she was just waiting for Isaac and Jocelyn to get home to do one last Thanksgiving dinner before hanging up her apron.

Here is a snippet of our day (don't forget to read about Jocelyn's potty adventure at the end)...

We started off with the usual pre-travel musts like putting on our shoes.

They love going "bye bye" even if Isaac doesn't look like it. In his defense he had just woken up from his nap. It takes a while to get going after a good snooze. Unlike Jocelyn who if you noticed has her mouth open in both pictures...

...that is because she is talking...and talking...and talking....from sunset. Yep, she is all girl. Daddy doesn't usual put her shoes on so she felt the need to instruct him on how to put on her shoes.

We ate as soon as we arrived at Great Grandma's house. Can you see how much my family appreciated me taking pictures?

This was their first time sitting at the table and not in a high chair...

Isaac was in awe of all the food.

After dinner Isaac spent the time driving his cars on Great Grandma's dining room chairs...

While Jocelyn spent the time exploring the vertical blinds...

Hmmm...why would she think it is ok to get in Great Grandma's blinds when it is not ok to get in ours at home?

"Because I am a toddler MaMa...that's what toddlers do"

The rest of the time was spent playing while stripped down to their diaper/underwear (it was way too warm in the house for them).

Yep, that's my daughter's belly. Our tiny little girl...only at 10% for height and 25% for weight...has a belly that can compete with the gut of any beer drinker. Uh no, we do not give her beer nor do we drink it ourselves. I figure she is just trying to keep up with her Grandpa. Sorry Dad she just might have you beat!

Aw...there is nothing like a couple of toddlers to help you rest after a big turkey dinner.

And what better way to end the day than with a kiss from the cutest young man ever...

It's me know...The Pistol Princess

I just thought I would tell you about going potty at my Great Grandma's house since my Mommy might not get all the facts straight.

There I was sitting on the toilet minding my own business...

When out of no where the toilet paper just fell off the roll!

Oooooh this doesn't look good!

I mean Mommy wouldn't think I did this would she?
I mean she only left the bathroom for a minute.
Isn't it amazing how toilet paper can just fall off the roll?!

You see why I had to tell you about going potty at Great Grandma's house?
I'm sure my Mommy wouldn't get all the facts straight.
I just wanted you to know that *poof* and the toilet paper was on the floor.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thankful Heart

I am thankful for:

- Our families and the blessings that come from having them in our life
- My hubby…no words could describe the debt of gratitude I have for him
- My beautiful, amazing, oh so adorable sweet peas…thank you for letting me be your Mommy
- Friends…the next best thing to family
- The emotional and financial support given to us as we adopted Isaac and Jocelyn
- Our home and the way it meets our needs
- Our car…Praise the Lord for all wheel drive (and no we never got stuck in 08’)
- My hubby’s job and they way it provides for our needs
- Our church…our much bigger family
- Those who help me when my two hands are just not enough when I am out with our sweet peas alone
- Great parking spots and those who still believe in holding doors open
- The sweet little giggles and squeals that now fill our home
- Grandparents who lovingly watch Isaac and Jocelyn while we get some of our own time
- The food that fills our pantry, warm blankets and the warmth of our fireplace
- A cup of hot chocolate after a wonderful day of sledding
- A long walk in the snow holding my Hubby’s hand
- And for all the other wonderful things that fill my life
…But more than anything I am thankful for
Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior
His mercy and grace which covers me anew each and every day

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree...Oh Christmas Tree

Can I just say...I love, love, love the holidays. Thanksgiving is always the perfect kick off to the Christmas season. What better way to start the season than to take time to be thankful. It is a good way to start off celebrating Christ’s birth…truly the greatest gift ever given. What could be better than having the God of the universe say “here is my Son…He is my gift to you…the gift of eternal life.” Truly the effort to stay young looking becomes futile at this point. And who needs it? The next time someone wants to tell you about your new gray hair or wrinkle just remind them your body will be perfect in heaven and eternal. Now you see that 100th gray hair isn’t looking so bad is it?

As usual I seem to have digressed down a path that I never intended to go when I started my post. Only I could mix gray hairs in with Christ’s birth.

The real reason for this post is to share with you one of my favorite family traditions…getting a Christmas tree. And as you can all imagine, this year it is going to be extra special. Heavens, everything this year is going to be extra special. Last fall all we could talk about was taking our sweet peas to Huckabas to get a Christmas tree. By the time Christmas arrived last year I was afraid to hope for them to be home for Christmas of 2009. It is amazing to think it took 9 more months than planned to get Isaac and Jocelyn here. Yes, this year is very special.

Friday we will be headed out to the tree farm to pick out our very first Christmas tree as a family of four. Hubby will be carrying the saw and Mommy will be packing every camera and camcorder she can find to record this wonderful event. I can’t wait to cover our tree with a light dusting of flock and then a myriad of tiny white lights. Finally, the tree will be decorated with 3 generations of family ornaments collected over the years. I can’t wait to see their faces light up the first time they see the tree in our house.

Yes, this year is a very special year. This is the year to see Christmas through the eyes of our toddlers.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Blind Sided

This weekend Hubby and I went out on our very first date since bringing our sweet peas home. I won't lie. I was like a giddy little school girl. We went to one of our favorite restaurants and to a movie called Blind Side. We have been waiting for its release and it was well worth the wait. It was a phenomenal movie. But I was amazed at how blindsided I was by the movie.

There are a lot of emotions inside of me that run very deep when it comes to adoption. Sometimes these emotions overwhelm me at unexpected times. Seeing the movie Blind Side was one of those unexpected moments. I was overwhelmed with the reality of how blessed I am to have my Hubby and two kids. There is such a fine line between a child found and a child lost forever. My husband could have been one of those permanently lost in the foster care system. He could have aged out without anyone in his life to call family, without a home to go home to. My heart breaks at the enormity of children who age out of the “system.” If they are not close to their foster family or have lost their birth family, where do they go? Whose Thanksgiving table do they sit at? Have they been given any family traditions to cherish? How do they feel when they see families who are close and living in a healthy loving environment?

What if Isaac and Jocelyn hadn’t been taken to a missionary to find them a home? What if their lives in the sea of orphans were not deemed valuable? What if they had been older when their parents died? Would they have been left to raise themselves on the streets of Addis? Would they have lived? Would they have ever known a life outside of hunger and primitive survival? Would they have ever known the love of a family?

Would have my Hubby or my children ever known the love of a family? No…no they would not have if it wasn’t for someone deeming their lives to be worthy of love. In Blind Side a family who had never considered expanding their family found themselves changed forever…changed by the decision to have a homeless child sleep on their couch for one night. This family could not escape the fact that this young man was worthy of love. It was undeniable. His life was torn, broken and filled with moments that would make anyone question whether they were worthy of love. They didn’t have to take this young man in. They didn’t have to make a difference in his life. None of us have to make a difference in an orphaned child’s life. We can easily live out our lives without ever doing anything. But before you continue on with your life, can I ask you a question? Is an orphan worthy of love? Is the child lost in the foster care system longing for someone to care for them and to have some stability…is that child worthy of love? Is the child living in an orphanage longing for someone to call Mommy and Daddy…is that child worthy of love? If they are worthy of love, what are you going to do about it?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Unnerware Anniversary

I know I said I would post things we can all do to defend the cause of orphaned children. And I will. this post is dedicated to our little girl who we have affectionately nicknamed The Pistol Princess:

A week ago today Jocelyn started wearing big girls underwear. Or as she likes to call them... unnernare. She just kind of self potty trained (don't you just hate it when that happens?).

For some time now she has wanted to use the "potty". But with all the transitioning, we haven't wanted to overwhelm her or stress her out. I have put her on the potty for fun and so she could get used to balancing on the toilet seat (I have no intention of buying a potty chair).

So last Tuesday I decided to see what would happen if I spent the day doing a little potty training. She did very well if you don't include me misinterpreting one of her signals which resulted in a ummm...well...ummm... a "present" in the dining room. I had to cover my mouth to keep from showing my shock. I didn't want her to think I was upset with her.

"What can I say Mom? I thought you got my signal."

We only had one more glitch on Wednesday so Thursday I took her out and bought her her very first set of unnernare. She wasn't too sure what to think the first day but now she points to them and says "pretty". The only time she wears her diaper now is for nap time and bed time.

For those of you looking for advice on potty training...are you kidding? This first time still adapting to motherhood mom has no clue how to potty train. This is one of the advantages to having a Pistol Princess for a daughter. No one is going to tell her she can't go potty like a big girl!

"I will go potty like big girl Mommy!"

The following message is from Jocelyn:

"I'm calling on all toddlers to give up their diaper wear n' ways and put on a pair of unnernare!"

"I mean who needs a diaper when unnernare are so pretty?"

Your fellow toddler,

The Pistol Princess

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Forty-Seven Times

God scratch that...God commands us 47 times to care for the orphaned and the widow. Why so many times? I believe it is because it is so easy to forget them. It is easy to forget the widow living in a nursing home with no family there to be their voice of need. It is easy to look the other way than to see the look of desperation for food, clothing and love in the eyes of an orphan. Believe me I know. Orphaned children living on the streets of Ethiopia were at every turn. It was so overwhelming I had to look away. But the image of the boy covered with scabs on his face begging not for money but for food to eat still haunts me. How can I make a difference? It is just me. How many of us say this? How many of us truly don't know what to do? The low estimate of orphans worldwide is approximately 20 million. The high estimate is 100 million. With the aids epidemic in Africa and natural disasters in other parts of the world, this number grows at a rapid rate. How do you make a difference? I hope to share an idea with you every day this week. Each one simple...each idea will be something all of us are capable of doing.

So how can there be a simple way when there are so many in need? Here is one very simple idea. There are over 300 million people living in the United States. If 100 million Americans gave only $5 one time, it would fund over 16,670 adoptions. One of the biggest hurdles families face is the financial cost. Many families don't adopt because they don't know how to fund the adoption. Our adoption cost around $37,000 and we still need to re-adopt them here in the US for them to be citizens which will cost an additional $1,000 - $2,000. If it wasn't for the generosity of friends, family, employers, grants and the grace of God, we would not have been able to bring our sweet peas home.

Can you imagine? It would only take $5 given one time by a 1/3 of America to change the lives of 16,670 children. How simple is that? If a 1/3 of all Americans would commit to $5 a month for a year, it would change the lives of over 200,000 orphans. If the money donated only funded 1/2 of the cost of an adoption you would be able to double the number. So a year of $5 a month would change the lives of over 400,000 orphans. Isn't that amazing?! It doesn't seem so overwhelming does it? Are you ready to make a difference in the life of an orphan?

One organization that stands out in supporting families through adoption is Lifesong for Orphans. They even took the time to pray over us several times when we hit some rough spots in our adoption. They are a phenomenal organization with amazing integrity. If you are looking to help an organization that aids families in adoption visit their website at

Are you looking to donate your $5 directly to a family? I know a family in Monroe Washington working feverishly to fund their adoption. Maybe you would like to help them directly. You can visit their blog and contact them there if you would like to "adopt" them in your effort to change the life of an orphan. Their blog is called Worth the Wait at

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November - A Very Special Month

Can you believe me a lover of all things Christmas would call November a very special month? isn't even because Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I have a multitude of things to be thankful for. This month holds a special place in my heart because it is National Adoption Month. I hope to take the time this month to honor our children, those waiting to be adopted, the orphanages that care for them, the orphaned families, those in foster care, the tireless caseworkers, the families seeking to adopt, and the organizations passionately seeking ways to help families bring their little ones home.

In an effort to celebrate National Adoption Month I have asked a newly found blogger and hopefully a soon to be friend (Rachel), if I could quote her blog excerpt from November, 9th. She has given me the blessing to do so and I will be forever grateful to her for allowing me to share her thoughts on adoption. I don't believe her words about adopting could be more eloquently stated. I have a few thoughts of my own I will share with you after you have the opportunity to be blessed with her words...

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of a child being “destined” for our family. When considering the whole picture, I envision Jesus crying with our child when he/she had to be separated from the birth family. For every child that is made available for adoption (much to the joy of waiting parents), there is a story of tragedy. Whether it is disease, death, abuse, or poverty, that child has been left alone, a casualty of sin and circumstances. Their stories grieve the heart of God and ours. Rather than "destiny," I think RESTORATION is more accurate. God joins together the grief of being orphaned with the grief of childlessness (in our case) and makes something beautiful – an adoptive family. It's a picture of beauty for ashes. Adoption is a restoration miracle and we give all the credit to our gracious, loving Father who does not "leave us orphans" (John 14:18).

As a wife to a man who was adopted out of the foster care system here in Washington State, and a mother to two newly adopted sweet peas, I can't even begin to explain to you the importance of Rachel's words. Amongst the joy of adoption, you as an adoptive parent can't shake or forget the fact that this amazing child is the product of a great tragedy. They are the product of loss. The loss of a family they may never see again or ever know.

I do have a couple of more thoughts I would like to add to what Rachel has so eloquently penned. I hope I do not take away from what she has said and hopefully she will not mind what I am adding.

I believe the restoration and destiny go hand in hand. God's desire is to always restore. He so deeply desires to lift us out of our life of sin and to transform us into a new life with Him that will lead to an eternity spent with Him. In his effort to restore us, He pre-destined his Son to die on the cross so that we might have eternal life (Eph 1:5). In the same way God takes the tragic loss of an orphan and predestines a family to restore to them that which has been lost. "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will (Eph 1:11)"

I love how the Webster dictionary defines destiny: to decree beforehand, to dedicate in advance. I believe God dedicates in advance the adoptive family who will restore the tragedy of the loss for the orphaned child.

I also love what the Webster dictionary has to say about restoration: a representation or construction of the original form. Is the perfect plan for every child to grow up with their birth parents in a loving and nurturing environment? Absolutely. Was it God's desire for us to live in the Garden of Eden with Him without sin? Absolutely. Just as God has restored us through his Son, God has restored the life of an orphan through adoption.

During this month when we celebrate all that we have to be thankful for, will you take the time to consider how you can be a part of restoring the life of an orphan?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We adore you

Have I told you that I am married to a wonderful man? No, I wouldn’t dare tell you he is perfect but he is perfect for me. Let’s face it any man who can put up with me for 15 years should be a good man and he is. Where I fail miserably he excels incredibly. We are a wonderful fit for each other my hubby and me.

Now I have had the privilege of watching him become a Dad.

It is something he has not taken lightly (one of the many qualities about him I admire so much).

He is a wonderful man but an even better father.

Where’s the proof you ask? It’s in the eyes of our children when he comes home each night. The way their eyes light up when they see him walk through the front door is all the proof I need. They adore their Daddy.

Even Jocelyn who didn’t let her Daddy touch her or hold her for the first 10 days we had them. But that is what is also great about my Hubby, he is patient. He patiently waited for his daughter to come to him when she was ready.

Mom is still her favorite but snuggling with Dad isn’t so bad either.

Her favorite thing to do is to call his name. She adores calling “Daddy” and hearing him respond to her. It is such a joy to watch.

Now for Isaac, Daddy is his main man. There is no one quite like Dad and I love seeing the two of them together.

Isaac has so much to tell Daddy when he gets home every night.

He gets so excited too when Daddy comes through the door. It’s so cute because he wants Daddy to hold him but he is so excited he can’t hold still. He ends up climbing up and down Daddy umpteen times before he can settle down.

Every night when I announce that it is time for baths he immediately goes over and grabs Daddy. Nope, there is no going upstairs without Dad.

I am so blessed to be married to such a good man but I am even more blessed that he is such a good father. Today Hubby/Daddy I want you to know you mean the world to your family. We love you and adore you. Thank you for being a part of our lives.

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