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.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

In Appreciation of Sundays

I look forward to Sundays.

The tradition of Sabbath-keeping is often bemoaned as legalistic or irrelevant or just plain impossible. It's too bad, because, for me, Sabbath-keeping is foundational. It is stopping in order to get somewhere, resting in order to wake up, being inattentive to what often seems important in order to become attentive to what is truly important.

I love how the two main Biblical exhortations toward Sabbath-keeping provide two compelling motivations. Exodus 20 says it this way: "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work . . . For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." Here, we are called to rest in order to become more like God. Perhaps, we need to learn that we cannot BE God (trying to "do it all"), but we can grow in imitation of Him. And one of the primary means of grace for this is found in Sabbath-keeping. When we honor Sabbaths, we somehow learn God's heart.

In Deuteronomy 5, we are commanded, "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work . . . Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day." In these verses, we are called to rest in order to both express our freedom and expand it. As I let go of those efforts I so often rely on to prove my own worth, I am free to delight in God's saving work, to express thanks, to give attention to people and ideas and activities I often fail to take time for. And as I do this, I am changed. As I stop to express gratitude, I become more grateful. As I cease from pushing toward this or that, I notice that, despite how urgent this or that may have seemed, I have become less pushy and free to care about other things.

I'm sure this next week will be another full one. I'm already looking forward to Sunday.
If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don't use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, God's holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing 'business as usual,' making money, running here and there—
Then you'll be free to enjoy God! (Isaiah 58:13-14)

For all you detail people: This Sunday included participating in corporate worship in the morning, enjoying lunch outside, romping around the neighborhood a bit, and reading books together. When asked his favorite part of the day (a daily bedtime ritual), Ethan said, "Singing 'Blessed Be Your Name' in church." You don't have to be a worship leader mom to know that's a pretty awesome Sabbath! For all you photo seekers, here's a peek at our carefree afternoon:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A First

It was not impressive to most. It was sparse. It did not last. But it was most definitely snow. In our family, that's a big deal. Two kids saw frozen stuff fall from the sky for the first time EVER!

Andrew was at school, so I didn't get to see his immediate reaction...but, when he got home this afternoon, he said, "Snow nice" (his favorite word to describe things he really likes, pronounced "nye-eese") and went on to explain how he got some in his mouth and his mouth was cold. Then he asked how many more cold days he needed to wear his coat. How do you explain "wicked long winter" to an Ethiopian child?

Jadon, on the other hand, was very eager to see the phenomenon for himself after finishing his lunch. He took a good look at a few flakes, laughed at his sister and mother doing our first-snow-tongue-out dance, and enjoyed a few minutes of pre-nap romping in the cold wetness.

After supper, we commemorated the event with our own fabulous representations. The indoor
version was also a big hit! So, now we've broken them in with something easy. The full-fledged blizzard ought to be really fun!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ring Louder, bells!

"Love is supposed to start with bells ringing and go downhill from there. But it was the opposite for me. There's an intense connection between us, and as we stayed together, the bells rang louder." (Anonymous)

I can testify to this in my marriage. I hold this hope strong for my whole family.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Jack-o-lantern Results

Thanks to our great participants!

The actual jack-o-lantern designs were chosen this way:

Andrew--the lion
Ethan--the toothy grin
Abby--the cat
Jadon--the spider

Congrats, Gramma!!! You got it!