Sunday, October 31, 2010


Once upon a time, two knights, a princess, and a lion went on a great adventure...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin-Carving and Snow-Frolicking

Tonight was pumpkin-carving time at the Tapper house. So that means it is time for the second annual "Guess-which-jack-o-lantern-is-whose" contest! Let's see this year, we have a silly face, a lovely lady, a startled kitten, and a creepy spider--but who picked what???

When we had finished our masterpieces, we peeked outside to find a blanket of white! Everyone hurried to don snow gear and have their first play in the snow this season. It was a lovely evening!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Family Motto: Work Hard, Play Hard

This one I'm not sure. What do you think? Did we work or play?

"Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions." --Mark Twain

School Dress-Up

Not wanting to risk any harm to their "real" Halloween costumes, the boys put together these outfits for dress-up day at school.

"Pirate" Ethan

"Tarantula" Andrew

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Goals are good, right?

So, here are three that I've come up with for the kids in this house:

1) Refrain from interrupting others (--especially the interruptions that involve increased vocal volume in order to facilitate your more urgent communication).

2) Eat a meal together at which everyone practices appropriate table manners without 3852 reminders from parents.

3) Make it through a day (or, at least, a few hours) without utilizing the pull-laboriously-on-some-part-of-Mom's-body-in-order-to-get-her-attention technique.

This family is open to any helpful tips, creative ideas, or sympathetic gestures relating to the above-mentioned goals. Reaching these goals would be REALLY good.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Park Time

"Take time for all things; great haste makes great waste." --Benjamin Franklin

While I've had several post ideas rolling around in my head, I haven't taken time to give them proper articulation.

However, today's mild temperatures did allow for some extended playtime at a park today--and we took it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Gardens

The following essay is taken from "Created to Connect: A Christian's Guide to The Connected Child" by Dr. Karyn Purvis with Michael and Amy Monroe. Although I am NOT a gardener (I can't even keep "hardy" houseplants), the imagery in this essay resonates with me as I consider the lives of my three adopted boys.

The Gardens of Life
By Cheryl Macdonald

We moved into our current home about two years ago, and as with any previously owned home there were a few not so welcome surprises. These unwelcomed surprises were easily overcome, however, by the beautiful landscaping, in particular the well-planned and maintained backyard garden, that we inherited with our new home.

Surrounding our stone pool deck is a lovely haven of green boasting an array of interesting
flowers and trees. From the four varieties of roses to the multitude of crape myrtles, lilies and blooming hedges, color graces our little backyard retreat virtually year round. While maintaining our backyard garden requires some effort, we humbly admit that most of it existed long before we claimed it as “ours.”

As the seasons change we love the new surprises that seemingly bloom to greet us—lovely
things we did not plant and therefore are delighted to discover. There are, however, other things in our garden we most certainly did not plant. Take for instance the parasitic vine that continually fights for a corner with my Indian Hawthorne or the patch of dandelions in the yard that seem to be resistant to any effort to eradicate them. For a while I was convinced they actually multiplied when weed killer was applied. In order to preserve and protect the intended beauty of the garden we’ve had to call the “weed man” for professional advice about the right intervention.

Our precious daughter came home in December 2006. We celebrated her 12th birthday just a few weeks later, and she has been a joy and a blessing to our family in so many ways. As her ”roots” deepen in the ”soil” of our family, I have come to appreciate and respect the garden of her heart and life. This garden was planted and blossoming long before I knew her name or became her mother.

There are so many beautiful things in the garden of my daughter’s heart and life—lovely things I did not plant! I was not there to see her first step, her first time to run, jump or climb, yet I have discovered that she is an amazingly fast, skilled athlete, and a graceful dancer. I did not hear her first words, but she has incredible language skills and is fluent in both English and Russian. Once she was home I discovered she could crochet, sew and cook. I have come to admire her strong work ethic, exhibited through diligence and determination—all qualities modeled for her half a world away. And I did not teach her to read, ride a bicycle or build snowmen, yet she loves to keep illustrated journals, ride bikes with no hands and build astounding things out of snow.

As with my backyard garden, there are also other things in the garden of my daughter’s heart
and life that I did not plant but cannot ignore. There are hard things that do not give life and instead seem intent to steal the beauty and joy from her victories. There are the fast-growing vines of fear and loss that try to choke out the trust and sense of permanence that has blossomed between us. And then there is the stubborn root of self-reliance that impedes vulnerability and healthy attachment. Nurturing the beauty and healthy growth in my daughter’s heart and life requires constant vigilance, regular work and the humility and willingness to call upon and utilize available resources (much like the “weed man”) when needed.

In this ongoing effort to help bring forth our daughter’s beauty and hold at bay the ”weeds”
in her life, I’ve relied upon amazing support from other adoptive families and our church, as well as books, conferences and skilled counselors. But by far the most valuable resource—for me and for her—is the Master Gardener. The garden in our backyard did not come to be by chance. It was carefully designed and created for a purpose. The same is true of our daughter. Acknowledging God as the One who designed her unique and precious life has created a bridge from her past to the present and enables us to continue traveling this journey toward a hope-filled future. He knows better than anyone, including my daughter herself, what things are buried deep in the garden of her heart, and He desires to see those things that He planted burst into life and beautiful color.

As the seasons of life change I know there will be many more surprises that will blossom forth from my daughter’s heart and life. Some will spring forth with life and beauty; others will seek an unsuspecting moment to yield patches of doubt and insecurity. Trusting His skill and purpose gives me courage and hope as I watch my daughter’s heart and life bloom and stand amazed at His Master Plan.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dear GPS...

I am sorry, GPS. Today, when you told me to take those lovely back roads through the Ontario countryside, I didn't believe you. I turned around and headed back to the highway, knowing I could get to Auntie Heather's house that way--even if you said it would take me 20 minutes longer. Auntie Heather assures me that those roads you chose would indeed have led me to her house and also provided me some pastoral autumn views. I'm sorry.

I guess I am just having trust issues. After last week's "adventure" on the "road" through the forest... might remember that we looked something like this...except it was dark...and it had rained steady for several days...and there were four kids on board...some trying very hard to be brave and some unable to contain their hysteria...and, of course, we were driving our Grand Caravan--not exactly an off-road vehicle.

So be patient with me, please. And remember I prefer asphalt.

Your somewhat skittish friend,

P.S. To accompany my apology, I wanted to give you this picture of our lovely time with cousins at our final destination! Thanks for recalculating for me!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What's New?

What is new with us? Well, there's quite a lot, really! It seems like there have been many "new" things happening around here lately, but I haven't always taken time to blog about all that goes on. Today, I'm listing off ten of the best or most influential "new" things I can think of from the last couple months.

1.) Health cards--Andrew and Jadon FINALLY have them!!!! As of October 1, the boys are officially covered by Quebec's health care program. They have been seen by an international adoption specialist at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. We are very excited to be able to pursue certain treatment options under this program.

2.) CanSkate--Ethan is enrolled in this terrific program. After church on Sundays, we head over to a great arena on the east side of the city. Ethan has put in several weeks, practicing "bubbles," gliding, jumping, skating backwards, etc. He is such a hard worker, and you can see him improving every week.

3.) Rings--I have a new wedding band. Same man, but a new band. Here's the story: Just before school started, our family took an end-of-summer trip to the local water park. Just as we were getting ready to head into the park, I decided to take my rings off because they tend to be a bit loose, and I didn't want them to get lost in the water park. When we got home (with a van-full of sleeping kids, wet suits and towels, messy lunch boxes, etc.), I forgot about putting my rings back on. The next day, we awoke to find that someone had broken into our van. They had taken a few small technological gadgets and (jackpot!) my rings, too. It was so sad to know that the special ring Mike had selected for me was gone, but we reminded ourselves that the rings were only a symbol of something that had not changed! Still, having had rings on my fourth finger for over 12 years, I felt really strange not having something there. We knew we couldn't spend a lot for new rings, however. At first, I purchased a cheap sterling silver ring at Walmart, but it started to discolor after a few weeks. Then, I found some great, inexpensive bands at the Titanium Era website. I ordered a simple titanium band, engraved and comfort fit. It came in less than a week, and I love it!

4.) Vegetables--We participated in a program offered by a local farm called Foster Family Farm. (Actually, the farm is in the town where Mike grew up, he worked for the family as a teen, and the program is currently run by one of his old friends.) Every week, we received a box with a bushel of in-season fruits and vegetables, a dozen eggs, and a recipe. It was fun to see what each week would bring and to experiment with some more unusual options. Maple butter brussel sprouts, beet cake, dilled beans, fresh tomato cream soup, squash spice cookies, and cheesy cauliflower soup were just some of our creative endeavors.

5.) A Little Job--At a neighbor's request, I have agreed to do some house-cleaning once a week. I really kind of enjoy the challenge of making things shine. There is always that bit of fear, though, that your employers will only see the thing you missed and not all the stuff you actually did. Still, it's a perfect little job for me.

6.) My Brown Fleece Hoodie--Okay, maybe this doesn't seem so great or influential. However, when I saw this chocolate brown, long, soft, stretchy, beautiful hoodie at my neighbor's yard sale (for only $1!), I knew this was big. I have a new favorite shirt. I would like to live in it until spring.

7.) Dietary Restrictions--Let me just say that Jadon's digestive system does not always seem to operate according to normal expectations. In an effort to ease address these problems, we are experimenting with his diet. We are starting with the removal of milk products. We are noticing some changes, but there are still some issues that seem unresolved. We will keep trying!

8.) School--I think we have settled into our school rhythm for the year. Of course, it was all a bit crazy with the Abby registration fiasco, but that seems to have sorted itself out very nicely. Now, Mike is into his PhD coursework. He works super hard and is delving into some pretty cool topics relating to the sociology of religion. Andrew is doing amazingly well with school this year. He was bumped up and out of the reading group to which he had been assigned last year. He really wants to excel. In fact, he brought home a math test last week on which he had scored a 96%. We told him that he had done a great job, but I could tell he wasn't convinced. At bedtime, I asked him how he felt about his test. He said, "I wanted to have 100!" Ethan is also settling into school very well. He loves his new teacher. He is learning to read in French, and I'm quite sure his French vocabulary is at least as big as mine (if not bigger!) Abby and Jadon are both at home, where we have been learning about lighthouses, rainbows, eyes, and all sorts of other interesting things! As for me, I have been officially conferred an MA in Human Services (Marriage and Family) from Liberty University!!! Hooray!

9.) Thanksgiving--This is a bit belated, but..."Happy Thanksgiving!" Those of us north of the border celebrated this past weekend. We enjoyed our holiday with special friends from Maine, lots of great food, and some beautiful fall weather.

10.) Cousin/Niece--I am an aunt! My brother and his wife have a precious little baby girl--just a few days old! The kids had been praying for Baby Chamberlain to come for quite a while...and now they pray for her to grow (and let her mommy and daddy get some sleep!) We can't wait to see her for ourselves!

...And that's the news from here!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Next Hair Experiment

One of Andrew's best friends from back in Ethiopia, adopted by an awesome couple in Kentucky, keeps in occasional contact through Skype. These two boys are alike in so many ways!!! Recently, Andrew saw some pics of his friend's new hairstyle and was instantly enthralled. After a consultation with Enna from Ottawa's "Slick and Sassy" hair salon, it was decided that Andrew was a great candidate for the same 'do. Today, the transformation was undertaken.

Here is Andrew's look BEFORE:

A few pics DURING:

And the AFTER results:

The eventual goal is dreadlocks that will keep their shape. For now, his hair requires some tiny rubber bands to keep the ends together and some occasional re-twisting for loose sections or new growth. We will continue to wash and condition with these twists in. Andrew really loves his new 'do. He says it feels like it isn't even there (which is quite a contrast to his response to cornrows, which included a lot of complaints about headaches and tightness). We love it, too! I think it brings out his handsome, brown eyes, don't you?

What do you see?

How many turkeys do you count in this picture?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Beautiful Autumn Evening

Come said the wind to the leaves one day,
Come o're the meadows and we will play.
Put on your dresses scarlet and gold,
For summer is gone and the days grow cold.

Saturday Mornings (and Wednesday Nights!)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Abby's Last Day of School

Exactly one month ago, I posted about Abby's first day of school. Last week, I wrote (rather cryptically) about a certain mistake I'd committed. So, here's the story (as told over and over, these last few days, in our house) of how those earlier posts and this post's title go together.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She was very beautiful and very smart. One winter, when the time came for mommies and daddies to take their children for kindergarten registration, the beautiful and smart little girl went with her mommy to the school board building. They took all the right forms and the little girl’s birth certificate. The little girl’s name went on the list with all the other children.

That summer, the little girl got letters from her new school. They told her about supplies to buy and who her teacher would be and when she would have her first day in her new school. The little girl was a little nervous, but she was also a little excited. When it was time for her first day of school in September, the girl had to be very brave. As she went to school, she learned that she really liked her teacher and that she could make new friends.
Some days, she was still very nervous. In her pocket, she always carried a very small piece of fabric, cut from her soft white blanket, to remind her of her mommy. Her teacher said she was doing a wonderful job in school. In fact, she even got an award at the first kindergarten assembly—a Principal’s Award for listening attentively in class.

One day, while the beautiful, smart little girl was at school, her mommy got a phone call from the school board. (This next part of the story should be told with a high-pitched, shrieking voice, wide eyes, and much hand-waving.) “We’ve just discovered that we had a problem!” said the woman from the school board. “We see that Abby’s birthday shows that she is too young for our kindergarten program.” How could it be that crazy mommy, crazy daddy, and the crazy school sent the little girl to school when she was not even old enough??!! Crazy!!! Sometimes, even grown-ups make mistakes!!!
So the crazy mommy and the crazy daddy and the crazy school talked some more. The crazy mommy cried about her mistake. The school board sincerely apologized for their mistake. The crazy daddy thought a lot about God’s providence. Then, the crazy mommy and the crazy daddy and the beautiful, smart little girl talked. When she was told about her mommy and daddy’s crazy mistake, the little girl said that she would like to stay home with her crazy mommy and her little brother until she was really old enough to go to kindergarten. She said that next year she would help all the little 5-year-olds who didn’t know what to do, because she would know all about kindergarten already. She was a little sad about saying good-bye to her very special, first-ever teacher and her new friends, but she knew that she would see them again.

So, exactly one month from her first day of kindergarten, Abigail Hope Tapper had her last day of kindergarten—at least for a while.