Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Experience Afresh

It is not yet three months since Andrew came home. It is easy to forget that. I mean, we still have "firsts" happening all the time, but I tend to notice them more when they are momentous or especially exciting. For example, today was the first time that we took the boys sliding. We bundled up, threw the sleds in the van, and headed out to a park across town that has a nice, beginner-sized hill for sledding. This has been much anticipated ever since the sleds were discovered in the house during the fall. The time on the hill did not disappoint whatsoever. It was one of those wonderful "firsts."

In general, the holidays bring a lot of opportunities for such special initial experiences. But there are also a lot of less-than-exciting firsts going on...and I can tend to miss them in the midst of the more exciting things. Tonight, I took time to marvel at my chance to watch Andrew and Jadon join Ethan and Abby in a puzzle game we've had in our family for some time. Then, a little later, I found myself trimming my seven-year-old's toenails for the first time. It's an odd sensation to be just beginning to feel this familial togetherness at the same time that you have these moments of realization about how little you know of each have these punctuations of peculiarity throughout the story of our intimacy.
It's not unlike a marriage in some ways. Mike and I have been married over eleven years now, but just the other day, we both learned something new about each other. I remember saying with awe: "I never knew that about you!"
This practice of experiencing each other afresh...of doing things in a new way because of some enlightenment connected to one I makes life a bit complex.
But I must say that I like it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cultivating Musical Genius

Especially notice the creative use of the triangle...

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Joy of Learning (and Teaching, too!)

"The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn." --John Lubbock

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


It wasn't so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God's gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there's more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this. --Titus 3:3-8 MSG

...steadily aware of our need to be renewed and made fresh by a divine touch...seems like there's something(s) new for God to be working on in us each day!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Ethan's reaction: Andrew's reaction:

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Good-est Gift

At breakfast this morning, Ethan told us that he dreamed about Santa Claus.

Now I love stories that kindle the imagination and all that, but I do have a problem with the way Santa's "Ho, ho, ho"s seems to drown out the cry of a baby in a manger at Christmastime. I desperately want my kids to approach Christmas with an attitude of graciousness and gratitude, learning to love God more, rather than growing in self-centeredness and shallowness. So I approach the whole Santa-thing rather gingerly.
This morning, after Ethan's comment about his dream, I asked him if he thought Santa was really real. He hesitated, then grinned and nodded.
"Well, let me tell you what I know," I said. "I know that there was a man named Saint Nicholas who lived a long time ago. He would bring presents to boys and girls who didn't have lots of toys or nice clothes. I think they would leave their boots out on the porch or the steps outside their house, and he would fill their boots with presents. Now, there's also a story about Santa Claus who wears a red suit and has a bunch of reindeer who pull his sleigh so he can bring presents to boys and girls. But the most important thing about Christmas is that God gave us Jesus. And that's why we give presents to each other at Christmas."
With the authority of a wise six-year-old, Ethan summed it up: "Jesus is the good-est gift."
That's it, buddy, that's what Christmas is all about!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Look closely at the hands of this crew and you'll see the real reason for those smiles!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Introducing a Family Tradition

The excitement of finding the family Christmas tree is such a fun thing to share. It was our joy to introduce Andrew and Jadon to this adventure today. A lot of fun was had by all.

The final results:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Language Laughs

I'm sure you've heard such quotes know, where kids use a word that is close to, but not quite, the right one--and it's rather funny. We've had a few such humorous moments with Ethan and Abby in the past. In fact, just today, as we were exploring long-forgotten treasures rescued from dusty, attic-bound, Christmas totes, Ethan provided a little language slip that made me smile. As he pulled a seemingly endless string of evergreen from its containment, he glanced up and asked, "Where are we going to hang all these garlics?"

Of course, when you add a couple young internationally-born speakers into the mix, there's going to be even more amusing communication foibles. Let me share a couple from our most recent transplant.

The other day, I was at the computer, working on something, when Andrew came in. I was pretty sure I had just recently given all three boys permission to go outside and play, but, here comes Andrew, obviously flustered. With eyebrows furrowed and hands jerkily motioning in an attempt to complement his limited language, he spoke. I clearly identified three words-- Jadon. Kitchen. Splash.

As I dashed from my desk, visions of our vivacious two-year-old sitting waist-deep in the sink, spattering water in every directions ran through my mind. Was I so preoccupied? Shortly, upon my arrival in the kitchen, I found no such thing. It turns out, as the three boys were undoubtedly jostlin about in their efforts to don shoes, coats, hats, and mittens in our small entryway just off the kitchen, the velcro clasp which holds up the mesh organizer (AKA mitten-and-hat storage container) must have let go. Jadon's mitten search had indeed "splashed" (or, rather, crashed) the whole deal. I was just relieved to be re-squeezing velcro rather than mopping up the entire kitchen!

Another entertaining word-switch occurred last weekend, during the family's six-hour drive to visit good friends in northern Ontario. It was our first real, extended family excursion with six, but the van ride went quite smoothly. The kids slept peacefully, munched snacks contentedly, sang enthusiastically, and, finally, toward the end of the drive, engaged zestfully in a collective guessing game. The way we play is fairly simple. First, someone sets the category (I'm thinking of a number between one and ten...or...I'm thinking of a farm animal...). Then, we take turns, allowing each member of the family to take a stab at guessing the secret, chosen item. At one point in the game, I was "the thinker" and my category was "something that lives in the ocean." There had been lots of great guesses, and I decided to help out with a few clues:
  • I doesn't have fins.....

(a few more guesses)....

  • It does have more than two legs.

I must admit, it took me just a moment to realize Andrew's correctness when he shouted from the back: "Autobus!"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

After-School Adventures

All smiles...

...until this:

(Recovery was made, and all children were restored to a general level of contentment.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I feel like I need a bit of a catch-up here goes!

-We had our first post-placement visit last week. We had to reschedule our planned visit the last week of October due to sickness in the house, but the report is coming due rather soon, so we needed to get it done. It was a little challenging, because it is supposed to be a report for 3 months after placement, but Andrew has only been home for 7 weeks. We are definitely still in the re-ordering stage!

-The big boys got their first report cards this week. We also had parent-teacher interviews. All seems to be going well from a school perspective. Ethan's teacher says he is a slow, but deliberate worker...rather quiet in class...seems to "get" concepts well...and can be a bit mischievous, but only when he thinks she isn't looking. Andrew's teacher says she loves having him in her amazed by how quickly he picks up on things...shows considerable resourcefulness...and is starting to see him using a bit more verbal communication.

-Abby got buckets of perler beads for her birthday, and they are certainly the "project of the week." She is generously sharing with her big brothers. I am quite certain that the three of them combined have spent double-digit hours putting together whimsical creations in the last few days.

-Jadon still loves to talk.

-All the time.


-One of the cute things I've noticed Jadon doing lately is praising and encouraging others. Here's a few examples from the last couple days:

"Mom, good job helping with the laundry."

"Abby, good job saying 'Sorry.'"

"Nice, Andrew! I like your cat" (upon viewing a project from school).

He's so sincere and enthusiastic with it. It's really cute.

-Jadon is also showing remarkable progress in the last couple weeks on some concepts. He can now consistently name most common colors and some letters correctly.

-At this point, it seems that Andrew has "lost" much of his original language. We asked him to count to ten in Amharic the other day, and he couldn't remember several numbers. This is fascinating to us. We try to imagine how his mind is processing things now. He continues to learn new ways of expressing things at home, and we are very proud of him.

-Andrew is also starting to be more affectionate (his new thing is to come up with a ludicrous number of kisses for me to give him when I tuck him into bed at we count 1 (kiss) 2 (kiss) 3 (kiss)...I think we did 27 or something last night.) He is a great helper with the dishwasher, laundry, vacuuming, etc. and he LOVES to play hockey in the basement.

-Each day seems to bring its own unique challenges. Some days seem especially hard and leave me exhausted or at a loss to know how to respond. Other days, things seem to go so smoothly and little victories leave me feeling satisfied and full of joy. In any case, we move forward in our sense of togetherness.

-Finally, the kids (okay, me, too) thoroughly enjoyed a little dance session before bedtime tonight. Enjoy the video!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Special Helpers

I was looking through some old photos and came across this one. The bathroom transformation shown in the previous post couldn't have happened without such special helpers!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dollarama and a Job Well Done

We did something different for our Friday night family outing this week. It was a little crazy, but really quite fun. Here's what we did:

We took the kids to the Dollarama, got each one their own shopping basket, and told them they could pick 8 things for the Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas child boxes we had from our church. Really, this was a great learning activity.
  1. They had to count their items. (This, of course, was not a one-time affair. I'm pretty sure each child had to count the items in their basket after every three steps or something like that.)
  2. They were challenged to think spatially. (As in--"What do you think, Jadon? That's a really great plastic chair...but will it fit in your box???" or "Okay, Ethan, I think you've probably got room for one more thing that's smaller than your fist...What can you find?")
  3. They eventually had to prioritize and make tough decisions. (You might not know that agonizing over such decisions most definitely requires the touching, rubbing, squeezing, shaking, etc. of each considered item, but this really is essential to the process.)
  4. They were thinking of someone other than themselves. (In our efforts to encourage unselfish hearts, we've been working on the memory verse: "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." It was really fun to watch the kids' excitement as they gathered their gifts and imagined what another child would like.)

The end result will be taken in to church tomorrow!

We are also celebrating the completion of a project at our house. After weeks of slow but steady progress, the downstairs bathroom renovation is complete. Now we not only have a beautiful, roomy, mold-free bathroom, but also our master bedroom isn't serving as a storage area for various tools, bathroom fixtures, and toiletries. That makes Mom happy! And the kids were particularly excited: "Now we have TWO toilets!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Definitely Still Learning

How is it possible that the same boy who lashed out at me, spitting out the words: "I think you are a yucky mommy!"...
...How could he be the same boy who sat on my lap as we discussed the Biblical story of Stephen, as we talked about how sometimes people will do things that hurt you even though you haven't really done anything someone might push or hit or say mean things...
...How could that same boy turn and look at me with clear eyes and firmly state, "But not love, love doesn't hurt"?

Perhaps I understand a bit of the heavenly Father's heart tonight?

"Hallelujah! Thank God! And why? Because he's good, because his love lasts" (Psalm 106 -- read the whole thing to really get the picture!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million." -Walt Streightiff

This evening, we explored just a few wonders in our little corner of the world. It was beautiful, and we had fun. The coming-together of these siblings is a wonder to me. We pray all the time for us to love each other well, but sometimes we fall so short. However, those times when we actually get it right, it is absolutely wonder-full.