Sunday, January 31, 2010

Backyard Business

The boys discovered Daddy's hockey equipment in the attic this week. This led to the official suiting-up of all potential skaters for some serious ice rink time.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Learning to Read

"Babies are born with the instinct to speak, the way spiders are born with the instinct to spin webs. You don't need to train babies to speak; they just do. But reading is different."
— Steven Pinker

"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark."
— Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Andrew read a book aloud to me today. He was ecstatic. I was so proud. This kid absolutely fascinates me. I love him.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What Will I Do With These New Eyes?

As promised, this post will attempt to give words to certain patterns of thought that have been impressed on me over the last little while. One of the main issues that has surfaced has been the prevalence of suffering in the world. Throughout our adoption process and other recent life experiences, my eyes have been opened to see the pain of the world in far greater detail, degree, and scope than I have known in the past. Frankly, this discourages me sometimes. I desperately want to see the whole earth full of the glory of God, but often I see brokenness instead. I'd rather ignore it, looking away, refusing to acknowledge its seriousness, finding something else--something much less troublesome--to distract me from its distressing actuality. But I can't forget. Besides, I am there, too—both suffering and causing suffering for others. I am broken.

In her book, Talking the Walk, Marva Dawn writes about suffering. She reminds me that the detail, degree, and scope of our world’s suffering today are not new. Rather, any suffering I experience—whether it is a personal affliction or an observable reality—must be entrusted to the eternal God, who knows the full extent of both suffering and glory. Her words are both sobering and inspirational:

…Jesus did not suffer only under Pontius Pilate or merely when He died. Jesus’ birth involved the sufferings of poverty, of scandal, of a smelly manger and scratchy hay. Jesus suffered as a refugee from Herod, as a teacher misunderstood by both His family and His closest disciples, as a homeless travelling rabbi constantly worn out by pushy crowds and harassing religious leaders.

Not only did Jesus suffer more in His entire life than we usually acknowledge, but also His sufferings in His last days were more extreme than we customarily imagine. I don’t mean merely that we should focus more on the brutality of His physical punishment as Mel Gibson did in his controversial movie about the Passion. Certainly many people who have been political prisoners have been tortured far more extensively, for much longer periods of time.

I intend instead for us not to undervalue the cost of Christ’s obedience, the severity of the rupture within God’s self in the God-forsakenness of Christ’s total submission to all the powers of evil and His descent to hell. As Alan Lewis makes clear, too often Christians jump too easily to Easter and don’t spend enough time in Holy Saturday looking back to Good Friday without the hope of resurrection.

I suppose we don’t want to take Jesus’ sufferings more seriously because we are not willing to bear them also. We’d rather not think that affliction and weakness are the way God usually works because we would prefer to be successful and powerful ourselves when we do God’s work. Or we don’t want to recognize that where Jesus is suffering today is in the lives of women, children, minorities, the poor, and others who are the victims of our sins. I have been thinking about this quite a bit this Lent as I write. At various conferences people have said such things as “I gave up eating desserts for Lent,” and I have found myself joking, “I gave up walking for Lent.” But to me it is no laughing matter. I’m tired of the pain, of the swollenness of my other leg that’s bearing my weight on crutches, of the preposterously long time it is taking for the burn on my foot to heal. For the past two months I have wished that looking at all the sufferings of Jesus would make me more willing to bear this comparatively minor inconvenience—but I don’t seem to have become more willing, even though I know how small my trials are compared to those of so many in the world who suffer so deeply. I pray that someday I will trust God in everything.

God does not give us an easy calling. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). My prayer is that I might, somehow, follow well.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thoughts at the End of a Day

  • Having a blog is a great excuse to procrastinate and avoid actually doing one's schoolwork.
  • I wish schoolmates of sensitive, new glasses-wearers would keep their unkind comments to themselves.
  • I am so glad to see progress in my son's ability to deal with negative emotions.
  • I loved that Andrew purposefully chose to take over one of Ethan's responsibilities without being asked when he saw that Ethan was having a hard time.
  • I must continue to seek God's wisdom to respond well to all of parenting's demands.
  • I enjoy moving furniture.
  • I think the new layout of the boys' room looks great.
  • And the toy-purging was rather painless, too. I like eliminating clutter.
  • The best part of the day was playing outside.
  • Our snowman is cool.
  • I also loved Abby's comment at supper: "When are we going to get more kids for our family? We need a girl -- a seven or nine-year-old girl." (I am reminded of how she was wishing for a baby girl before our referral last year, and I wonder what prompted this comment about an older sister. Now I wouldn't advise basing family decisions solely on the random suppertime comments of four-year-olds, but I must note that she does defy all the "never-adopt-out-of-birth-order-because-you'll-totally-wreck-your-kids" logic!)
  • I also loved Ethan's response to Abby's suggestion: "Mom, we can get another girl when I... (pause while he does some counting on his fingers)...when I am eight years old, okay?" Pretty courageous from the sensitive kid who had a rough day, eh?
  • I have a lot of unspoken thoughts on the last year or two: the changes in me, in how I see my world, in how I know God. There's a lot to sort out. Frankly, I find it a lot easier to write posts about cute, daily, kid stuff. But there's more for me to patient. It's coming.
  • In the meantime, I offer cute pictures.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

We are just over six months past this day--

--when two wonderful, yet strangely unfamiliar, boys stepped into sight and into our family, expanding the loving capacity of our hearts in fanstastic ways. After the heartbreak of paperwork delays, it has now been almost four months since all six of us Tappers have been together under one roof. I remember that it was around the four-month mark when I began to feel comfortable with our family after bringing Ethan home from Ukraine. I am beginning to feel that sensation again. It's the comfort that comes from togetherness. It's that sense that we know we belong together. We know how to belong together. Amazingly, most times, we can simply enjoy being together without having to think about it, work so hard at it, overcome all the obstacles opposing it. What a relief and a joy!

Regarding life together and getting along with each other. . . . Just love one another! . . . . Keep it up; get better and better at it. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Big Boys' Bush

The family's plan for today involved our six-month post-placement interview with a licensed social worker, two dentist appointments, one parent chaperoning a school field trip, and, of course, the regular stuff--like eating and doing laundry. Then there was the matter of forgetting to set the alarm clock last night. (Oops!)

Anyway, everyone got to where they needed to be, and all went well.

Before supper, Andrew and Ethan were playing outside. I heard them come in. Upon greeting them, I could sense their excitement. Indeed, they were not just coming in...they were in on a mission. Having found some sticks along the edge of the yard, they had arranged them in the snow to make a bush. Now, they were intent upon finding food to hang on their bush for the animals. First, they asked for oranges, but, alas, none were to be found. Then, they spied our enormous container of peanuts, but they were not sure how to attach peanuts to their bush. Finally, they came up with the popcorn string plan. What a great activity to round out a wild day!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Four precious children, sleeping safe and sound in their beds (albeit, with some strange slumber arrangements), is a wonderful blessing.

Just a few hours before this, we prayed for the people of Haiti. Dear Ethan, ever sensitive to the pain of others, simply prayed, "God help the Haiti people," before crawling up onto his Daddy for a snuggle and the shedding of a few tears. I say, "Amen," and "May my heart learn to break for others that way."

I have so many reasons to be grateful.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Still Going Strong

I've put off this post for a while because I wanted to make sure it actually stuck.

I admit, at first, it seemed to go almost too well.

Now, a whole month later, it's still going strong, and I'm still really loving the whole idea.

What is it? THE CHORE CHART!

Every day of the week, each child has one of four activities (dish-washing, vacuuming, book-reading, or picking up) to complete after supper time. Mom and Dad help whoever needs a little assistance, and the jobs are done fairly well. The children seem to feel a real sense of accomplishment in connection with these tasks, and I can't not say I don't appreciate having a team to help get those pesky jobs done. During the day, the kids will often ask in anticipation, "What's my chore for the day?" Yes, they each have their particular favorites, and there is occasional complaining...but they (and we parents) have really kept with it, hopefully cultivating--in a small way within all our children--a sense of joy in taking responsibility and working together.

Assorted Pics: Painting, Puppy Love, and Spectacles

Andrew, here, is hard at work with a hockey player model he received from a friend for Christmas. This boy attacks activities with a certain fierceness that one can't help but admire!
Abby and Jadon love to play with their animals.
Lately, "Sando" the puppy has been a real favorite.

This is a sneak preview of Ethan's future look.
(The rosy cheeks are the temporary result of an evening on the ice rink, but the glasses have been sent off to be filled with an appropriate prescription for our handsome little guy!)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Couple "Happy" Things

Now the sopping wet mittens, hats, etc. that had been repeatedly demanding a convenient place to warm and dry have their own happy place (or maybe that was me?). Anyway, this isn't some impractical little device. This particular model can actually handle the load from all six family members!

Feeling slightly bored with the usual rotation of supper options and having a large quantity of ground beef on hand, I decided to make some sloppy joe turnovers from scratch tonight. Without any prompting, there were rave reviews from the kids. How heartwarming it is to hear: "Mom, I like this supper;" "Thank you for making supper, Mom." "These are sooooooo good!"

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Adjust (verb)

New years do provide some sense of a new beginning. Frankly, however, this particular new year finds our family still smack dab in the middle of major adjustment. Today, I looked up the word adjust and found this definition: "become or make prepared." Synonyms include adapt, acclimatize, accomodate, fiddle-with, fine tune, get act together, grin and bear it, fit, modify, order, redress, settle, arrange.
The whole concept of being made prepared for family expansion seems laughable to me. As my whole family leafed through the baby book that Mom worked on for me many years ago and just recently delivered for our viewing pleasure, we came across a certificate proclaiming my parents to be "PREPARED PARENTS."
It struck me funny. I don't mean to suggest that my parents did not do a great job! I couldn't have asked for a better pair to raise me, but I think that even they would admit that prepared is not exactly the best word for how any parent gets to approach bringing up children. Often times, I feel completely unprepared, caught off guard, forced to wing it on the spot. Complicate matters by throwing in four entirely different personality mixes, the necessity of second language and attachment processes, and a somewhat unsettled family schedule...well, let's just say it leaves lots of room for adjustment. (And sometimes it's more of the grin and bear it-type than the act together-type.)
May 2010 be a year of fine tuning!
Post Script (with pictures)
...The year did start off with a very fun family activity. Auntie Jenn and friends treated us to a pony-pulled sleigh adventure on a nearby farm. I tried to capture some of the excitement of that day.