Saturday, October 31, 2009


The excited costumed clan
The adventuresome trick-or-treaters

The most beautiful fairy princess candy deliverer

The spoils

P.S. There's still time to make your jack-o-lantern guesses in the comment section of the following post!!! Give it a try!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Life Lessons (I Hope) Andrew Learned Today

1) Protestations of "Andrew no all done sleep" will not deter Mom from insisting you get out of bed because the school bus will not wait for sleepy boys.

2) Heeding Mom's ludicrous suggestion about wearing your lion costume to school might have actually been okay today.

3) Despite its wonderful texture and spectacular colors, Playdough really does taste terrible.

4) If you are playing with something that belongs to your brother and it breaks (whether you think it is your fault or not), he will be mad at you.

5) Even though he gets mad at you, your brother still loves you.

6) When you are overwhelmed and break down emotionally, your family will not just leave you alone -- because they all love you.

7) Carving pumpkins is super fun!

Admittedly, this has been another heavy week at the Tappers, but we press on. Because I find the need to infuse some levity into my days, I'll leave you with some cute pictures AND a challenge:
Can you determine which Tapper child picked which jack-o-lantern design below? Leave your guess in the comments section, and I'll let you know the correct matches in a couple days!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eye Contact

I've read a lot of adoption/attachment/parenting advice. Some of it has been so insightful and tremendously helpful. Some of it is hard to understand, but some is really simple.

Like eye contact.

In the last week, I have been trying to be purposeful about eye contact. I used to consider myself really good at this. I was a listener who looked people in the eyes, holding their gaze, intently observing all the nonverbal cues that filled out their communication. Sometime in the last four years of being a parent, however, I think I misplaced my emphasis on eye contact. I became a multi-tasker. There's a lot to do as a mom of one...two...three...four.

This week, I've realized there's a lot to miss as a mom of four, too, if you forget to make eye contact. So, I'm reforming...forcing myself to turn away from justifiably significant tasks in order to have (admittedly, often nonsensical) conversations with my full attention. I don't think it matters so much what is said. It matters that I'm fully there.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Life is life. God is good.

As if to affirm my previous post, the Scripture reading in church this morning was from John 16. The guest speaker's message also highlighted the theme of overcoming evil and trouble by trusting and living in obedience to the Spirit of God. What an encouragement for us today!

Have you ever heard the saying: "Life is good."? A pastor friend of mine once reframed this by redirecting the praise. He says, "Life is life. God is good." John Piper has said it this way: " Life is hard. And the more you love the harder it gets. . . . But God is good. And Christ is strong to help" (full article). Does that ring true to you? It certainly does for me after holding my oldest son for over an hour while he moaned and cried, grieving (for the first time under our care) his many losses. How my heart ached! Yet how full it is--full of love, full of motivation to rise above the trouble of this day, full of hope for days to come!

Jesus himself said, "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.

"You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world." (Matthew 5:3-8)

These blessings are very real to me today. I AM BLESSED!

...and if you don't believe me, take a look at these:

(Okay, it's possible--especially if you are not Canadian--that you missed the tremendous significance of these first three pictures. That's okay. The rest of us understand.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009


In this world you will have trouble (John 16:33).

Accidents in pants, accidents through the night, eleven stitches on a child’s face, technological items stolen out of one’s vehicle, being disconnected three times from the government agency you need to speak to regarding important documentation for your children, miserable rain, pinkeye, rapid mood swings necessitating deft parenting responses, feelings of inadequacy as a parent, loneliness, bills, stark awareness of one’s personal complicity in grievous social sins, language barriers, night terrors, piles of laundry, schedule conflicts, and tiredness.

Yeah, I’ve wrestled with all of these…today.

But take heart! I (Jesus) have overcome the world (John 16:33).

This is what I hold on to on days like today. I know that in the midst of my struggles, he is here. If I will just turn my attention from these things that press in on me, I will find an alternative reality that can transform my perspective. This doesn’t negate my struggles. I still need to work on my responses to my son’s sudden demeanor changes, so that I can help him to learn self-control himself. I still need to keep dialing the phone in hopes of making progress in the post-adoption paperwork journey. I still have to face the fact that I am far away from many people who matter to me, whose lives produce heartbreaks and wonderful joys that I can only experience from a distance. I still need to reflect on what I’m learning about individualism, world poverty, and discrimination. And there’s always laundry.

But I don’t have to do it alone. In the midst of it all, I have a companion who enriches my thought life with His words, who challenges me by His example to live better, who frees me from unnecessary inner turmoil by His ever-present listening ear, who inspires me to press on through all sorts of trials. Because of that, my world—with all its trouble—is overcome. The alternative reality overcomes it because the immediate experiences of this day are just that—of this day (except, perhaps, for the laundry which always seems to spill over into tomorrow). But what happens with Jesus will endure forever and all will be made glorious in connection with Him.

Because of that, in the middle of my lousy day, I have had many opportunities to truly rejoice.

So come on, let's leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. . . . I want each of you to extend . . . toward a full-bodied hope, and keep at it till the finish. Don't drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them. . . . We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post (from Hebrews 6).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fun at the "Big Sand Box Park"

Just up the street from our house is a small park. Well, it has the official title of park, and I know that there were some old play structures at this location previously, but they were removed before we landed in the neighborhood. As a result, what we have is basically a GIANT sand box and one small slide. Abby and Jadon enjoyed some time there this afternoon.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Loving School, Trying Injera, and Making a Splash

Andrew started half days at the school on Wednesday after Canadian Thanksgiving holidays. He had been counting off the days on the calendar and was SOOOOOOO excited to be finally (in his mind) on his way to school.

For the last three days, we have picked him up from school after he eats lunch with his class. This arrangement had been planned in order to ease him in to the school setting and provide extra time for him to settle into our home and family and to adjust from his Ethiopian routine of long afternoon naps. Obviously, we have learned, this plan was NOT Andrew's idea of the way things should be. Every day, sometime after I've brought him home from school, Andrew dons his backback again, comes to me, and--despite his limited English--clearly communicates his desire: "Andrew go school for all done, then home."

The plan is to discuss his progress with his teacher and school administrators after Monday.

Andrew does continue to explore his communicative abilities. We've been playing some ESL games I found online, reading lots of books, and have been purposeful about trying to use as much descriptive and identifying language as possible. He seems very eager to learn, often asking "What's this?" as we go throughout our day.

We have also tried to be consistent in our rule-keeping. While it might be easy to sometimes be more lenient with the "new" kid, especially the one who you waited for and agonized over for so long, but we recognize that such an approach probably wouldn't serve us well long-term. So, Andrew gets his fair share of "No's" and "the Mom look" and the laying out of consequences.

This afternoon, we walked down to the grocery store for a few things. As we were walking down an aisle, Andrew called out to me. A bag of bagels had captured his attention. "What's this?" he asked. I named them. He spoke again. Apparently, he thought he should have those bagels for his lunch at school. Well, I have nothing against bagels. Actually, I'm a big fan. But I am not a fan of the price of the particular bag of bagels that Andrew had discovered. So I told him that we were not buying those bagels, turned, and started back down the aisle. From behind, I hear a familiar voice trying to work his angles: "I love you."

I turned, suppressing my laughter, gave my boy a big hug and informed him that he had all my love, too, but he was not going to have those bagels!

Since we try to keep Fridays as our family fun night, I thought the kids might enjoy a trip to an Ethiopian restaurant. There are several not too far from our house, I was pretty sure Andrew and Jadon would be impressed, and Ethan and Abby are rather curious about all things Ethiopian, so we decided to give it a try. As expected, Andrew and (especially) Jadon dug right in. (Literally, of course, since Ethiopian meals are served without silverware.) Ethan was game to try everything, but he wasn't too successful at finding anything he really enjoyed. As you can see from the picture, Abby mostly just watched!

Then we headed to the pool for family swim time. Unfortunately, the lighting and my camera were not working well together tonight, but you can at least get a taste of the wild adventures that are involved in a Tapper pool experience.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Can you believe what I found at my house today?

There were some zookeepers looking after wild animals.
Then I saw a very beautiful fairy princess.
There was even a lion tamer (or was it the tamer who needs taming???)

And most surprising of all...Can you believe I found a four-year-old girl???

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

See Our Sleeping Animals...

...sleeping all day long. Let us gently wake them with our happy song...

Wake up, sleepy snakes! Slither, slither, slither!
Wake up, sleepy monkeys! Ooo, Ooo, Aaah, Aaah, Ooo, Ooo, Aaah, Aaah!

Wake up, sleepy tigers! Grrr, grrr, grrr!

Wake up, sleepy turtles! C..r..a..w..l..i..n..g.........s..l..o..w..l..y.

Wake up, sleeping kangaroos! Hop, hop, hop!

Wake up, sleepy lions! Roar, roar, roar!

Wake up, sleepy anteaters! Hold on tight!

Wake up, sleepy camels! Walk, walk, walk!

Wake up, sleepy alligators! Snap, snap, snap!

"When we play, we sense no limitations. In fact, when we are playing, we are usually unaware of ourselves. Self-observation goes out the window. We forget all those past lessons of life, forget our potential foolishness, forget ourselves. We immerse ourselves in the act of play. And we become free." --Lenore Terr in Beyond Love and Work

Tonight we played hard. Tonight, just before bed, I received my first completely unsolicited "I love you, Mom" from a certain newly arrived family member. It totally surprised me.

Free indeed!