Monday, December 29, 2008

Parenting Reflections for 2008

Hmmmm, as I sit here fingers poised and ready to type out a novel, I find myself with writer's block. Isn't that funny coming from someone who usually has way too many things on her mind and has trouble narrowing down what it is she will blog about. But that's me. I have started this post about thirty different times on probably just as many occasions, and I still am not sure what it is that I want to convey in this post. As you can see by the title of this post, it is about parenting, but what about it?

I guess I could sum it up by saying that a parent is a continual work in progress, and that no matter how awesome they appear, they are far from perfect--------ahem, speaking from experience that is. Take two weeks ago---- While I was going to the bathroom, you know who was sitting at my feet and in an instant, Dennis reached behind the shower curtain and pulled out a razor and stuck it in his mouth...... before my quick reflexes could take it out of his hands. How did I not see that one coming? Don't worry, I was there to prevent him from getting hurt, but it was sobering that even I after years of practice, didn't have it all together all of the time.

Oh, and what about Sveta's ringworm on her face? I saw that she was developing a rash on her face, but refused to believe that it was ringworm at first. Doesn't everybody know that Reed kids are too good to get ringworm? After I was thoroughly insulted by the school nurse who suggested that this is what my lovely daughter had, I went home and googled it, and sure enough, she had it. I immediately started putting on an anti-fungal cream, but the ring wasn't getting any better after two days. That is when I noticed that she kept touching it, like every few minutes. I insisted that she stop touching at, but after three more days, it was evident that she was touching it when I wasn't around. No amount of love, encouragement, begging, or demanding was going to get my sweet Sveta to stop touching it, so I got my creative parenting juices flowing.
"Sveta, No gum or candy until your ringoworm goes away. That means, don't touch it!"
And guess what? Within two days, the ring was nearly flat, and on the third day, we celebrated. Sveta got a piece of gum. I winked at her, and pointed to my nose and simply said, "Mama knows."
Little things like this happen everyday..... I think it comes with the territory, and I can certainly handle it, but there are times when I feel like I am not enough, not patient enough, not caring enough, not strong enough, not wise enough, and not able to do the things that I was sure I could handle. Actually...... I don't feel this way too often, but when Dennis started bleeding and had to be rushed to the hospital, I panicked feeling very inadequate. Everything I knew about parenting temporarily slipped my mind, and as I rode to the hospital thinking that perhaps the child in my arms would die, I wondered if he would have been better off just staying in the orphanage. My heart knew the answer to be no, but my head thought that if he was still there, he would not be riding in an ambulance having blood sucked out of his mouth to keep from choking.
All I was able to do was hold my son.
Even my faith temporarily faltered as I wondered if God would indeed save Dennis. Only when the bleeding stopped, did I have peace that Dennis was going to be okay. What kind of mother loses hope, if even for a second------ just because things are out of her control? I know. This kind of mother. Later, my husband told me that as he was racing home in the car, he felt God telling him that Dennis was going to be okay. That was when I was gently reminded that I was not doing this alone, and that while I momentarily didn't have everything it takes to be an awesome parent, I didn't have to be because God was right there picking up the slack.
Well........... God picks up the slack for me many times a day.
And it doesn't make me weak to admit that. In fact, I have told my kids on more than one occasion that when they do something that makes me upset with them and even possibly makes me dislike them because of their behavior, they can take comfort in knowing that I turn to God to fill in and make up what I am unable to give at that moment. And because of that, they can trust that I will always love and be there for them, no matter what.
Everyday, I am learning to be more patient, and I am working hard at being gentler and softer when I speak. This is an area where I need major work, but it was really encouraging to have my daughter notice and say two days in a row, "Look at Mama. She is being gentler when she speaks." Hunh?, (looking both ways), where did she get that? Gentler? I was just trying to keep from raising my voice when I speak. But, I can handle being called gentler, although she hasn't used those words to describe me in a few days.
As a mother, I have to continually be open to change, and I have to remind my children that they have to be open to change too. Just because we are in a comfortable place in the mean time doesn't mean that things are going to stay that way forever. Just this year, I became the parent to not one but two teenagers, and with that comes change. Not just on my part, but on their part too. This year, I took my kindergartner out of school because he needed to be home with me one more year. Had I been unwilling to change or acknowledge that my son just wasn't ready for school yet would have been detrimental to his well being, I believe. Just a month ago, I had to address one of my son's obsessions with fire----- which was a huge change for me. These are just to name a few.
Recently, John and I had a major breakthrough with one of our daughters. It started out with something trivial------- another daughter coming to us and saying that someone had been in her room to turn on her Christmas lights without asking. The rule in our home is to not touch something that is not yours without the permission of the owner, so for the daughter whose lights were touched, this was a big deal. I went around asking each child, and each one said it wasn't them except for one who said that Dennis probably had done it. Stupid, stupid me, actually entertained that thought, and was almost convinced that it couldn't possibly be the daughter who was the only one who had alone time in the room, who had a habit of using things without permission, and who was trying to blame someone else. Even after 2 years home, she was more convincing than ever and stupid, stupid me even went back and asked the daughter with the lights if she had made up the story to get someone else in trouble. Of course, I apologized for that one, and learned a valuable lesson about my forgiving and very honest daughter, and had my husband who is often times much wiser than I deal with our lying daughter.
He came down on her very matter-of-factly, and said that he knew that she had turned on the lights. Her story changed. Now, she probably did do it, but her brain couldn't remember doing it. Still a lie, but to her, she was convinced that she had us convinced. Thankfully, I was doing something with the other kids, and my husband wasn't buying it. Eventually, the truth came out, hard as it was, and our daughter learned once more the same thing we have been teaching her from day one. Consistency continually, I like to call it. It was hard to see just how much more work we have cut out for ourselves with her on such a simple thing as lying. She was willing to blame another child, she was willing to have the whole family forgo movie night, and she was willing to lie to our face not once, but as many times as it took to deny that she did anything wrong. At the end of her confession, I was not so graceful. Probably because it was like pulling teeth to get the truth out of her, and mainly because I thought that we were past this kind of nonsense.
This happened five days ago, and we did go on to enjoy a wonderful Christmas with her, but until she has rebuilt her character--- one of honesty and trustworthiness which amounts to being responsible and respectful, she will enjoy a much earlier bedtime and less privileges than her sisters. I periodically joke with her that I wonder if she will still have an early bedtime when she is seventeen.
As I wrap up this post, I am still blessed to report that I am doing exactly what it is that I want to do with my life........ and through it all, it is still very rewarding, every last bit of it. I am still excited that I found a solution to my sock dilemma, I am still following the five finger rule, and I remind my kids daily that they are all stuck with me. My wonderful husband and I are getting ready to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.... with overnight childcare courtesy of my Mom and sister. If we still don't have trouble getting people to watch our kids, that must mean we are doing something right, right? Ending with a big smile!

Monday, November 10, 2008

I just Love my Family

My oldest daughter Rachel has one amazing, yet sorrowful story of her prior life back in Ukraine. Despite her past, she is defying the odds and growing up to be one very sweet, thoughtful, helpful, and loving daughter. Her desire to have a baby sibling has not grown old. She is still very much in awe of Dennis and loves him very much. It is obvious that she will one day grow up to be an amazing daughter. Yes she had a very rough start and saw way more than anyone should ever see in a lifetime, yet she has truly forgiven all the people that have hurt her in the past and has been able to look forward and make sure that she doesn't repeat those mistakes. Early on I told her that she could do one of two things. She could wallow in self-pity and blame the rest of her depressing life on her past, or she could choose to forgive those that hurt her because they didn't have the family, money, support and or love of God to carry them through the very hard times, and learn from her past and make sure to never be what they were. She has chosen to live---- and not just live---- but LIVE! This picture doesn't do Rachel justice. She is helpful to everyone-- even her obnoxious, bugging older brother who she made a sandwich for his lunch this morning.

A staple in our house is baked potatoes baked in the oven not microwave. They are so versatile. Yesterday after church we had leftover baked potatoes topped with chili, cheese, sour cream, and butter. We had cut up broccoli, carrots, radishes, and cucumbers dipped in ranch dressing. Simple, cheap, delicious, and filling.


We went to an afternoon bible study at our friend's house. They are the ones that live out in the country. On the way there, the girls kept saying,

"Their apples are delicious."

"I hope they let us pick some more pomegranates."

"Even their nuts are yummy."

Needless to say, the visit was very nice.

If the kids were good there, we promised to take them out to a restaurant. It wasn't a bribe but by holding them accountable to shine their light and knowing that as a family they all had to help each other to be their best, it was a great incentive for them. Sadly, William got a little wild and threw a boot, angrily yelled at a llama, and knocked over a chair. Admittedly, he knew that he had not been on his best behavior. This is something that we have struggled with for a very long time with William, it is a huge factor as to why we started the evaluation process for him back in kindergarten. Anyway, while driving home we made very clear to William that he had made some bad decisions and we weren't sure whether or not we should go to a restaurant. At the very least he may be eating crackers and water if we did go. This got him to thinking and finally we got the right response out of him instead of the huge grin that he normally can't wipe off of his face.

All the other kids had been really good, and William did seem sorry for his behavior, so we drove to IHOP. Before we were seated, John had another talk with William. John was going to give him grace as long as William promised to try even harder next time. William's face was one of genuine thankfulness mixed with seriousness. We want William not to fear discipline and punishment but we want him to want to be behave because he knows that we love him and will forgive him when he messes up. Exactly like God wants of us. If God was all about us behaving perfectly or else we go straight to hell, He would not be someone that I would to entrust my life too. I think our children need to always know that we are also always ready to forgive when we see that they are truly sorry for what they did.

Here are some pictures from the restaurant.

Most of us had breakfast for dinner. After we all gorged ourselves, there was still tons of food left over. Sveta and Caleb decided to bring the rest of their grub home to eat after school today.


I had to save the best for last this morning! Lately Annalyn has been doing so well that I had to take a moment to brag! I'm sure you already knew this when I posted here, but ever since I blogged about her two year anniversary, I have been waiting for the day where I can finally boast about her progress! And progress she has made.

For the last three days, something seems to have clicked in Annalyn. Actually it was the whole week prior as well, when I began to note significant changes in my daughter. All this week, she has remembered to take her instrument to school--- good thing that I didn't act hastily and pull her out of band like I wanted to. She has been incredibly helpful, putting the needs of me, and the family first for a change. In the morning, she has been getting up and unloading the dishwasher without being asked before she sits down to eat breakfast. This is huge and you better believe that I have been incredibly thankful and praising of her responsible acts.

She has done some extra credit assignments to raise her grades--- and recently got an A+ on her science project. In the beginning she had in her mind that Dad was going to help her like he did with her mission project, but I quickly made it known to her that this was something I fully expected her to do on her own. For a few days she tried to come up with reasons why she needed his help, but I watched her and knew that she could do it on her own with minimal help from anyone. I had her work on it in the kitchen where she had constant encouragement and support if she truly needed it. I snipped a few wires for her, but that was it. Come time to turn it in, she actually had to bring it home and make some last minute changes if she wanted to get the best grade. She did, and when she finally turned it in and heard that she had gotten an A+, you could see how proud she was of herself. I knew that she could do it!

A couple of weeks ago, I found tons of dirty clothes in her drawers and I reminded her of how irresponsible this was. I made her clean out her drawers only to later find a dirty pair of her jeans with the belt and underwear still in them turned inside out and crumpled up inside the dirty clothes basket with the dirty crotch staring right at me. I was mad---- all of my kids know that they have to turn their clothes right side out before they put them in the hamper. I will wash clothes but I will not spend my time turning their clothes out. So, when I saw this, I simply picked them up exactly as I saw them and set them on her pillow so she would be greeted by the same thing when she got home from school. Mind you, after 2 years of being home, this is not to much to ask of my almost 11 year old. Of course this embarrassed her, but I saw something click inside of her when she this and realized how disrespectful she had been to me. I even joked with her and said that I had almost taken a picture to blog about it. She said she would have deserved it if I had done that. I then told her that it wasn't my goal to embarrass her, but to teach her how to be the daughter that I know she is capable of being. She hugged me, and this was an appropriate time, another accomplishment for her. I hugged her back and gave her side a little tickle.

What really melted my heart was when I woke up yesterday morning to her gently and lovingly rubbing my feet. It was so unexpected--- and so very sweet. I do not know what came over my daughter, but after a minute or two more of feet rubbing, I invited her to crawl into bed with me and get cozy. It was a wonderful moment.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I am Exempt!

Boy, they didn't wait long to serve me. I promptly got back to them, the same day that I voted.

To Whom it may Concern,

I am juror XXXXXXXXX and I am writing to get an exemption from jury duty. Not only am I a stay at home mom of 11 kids, but we just adopted our 2 year old son with special needs at the end of July, 2008. I do not leave him with a babysitter yet because I want to avoid attachment issues and he is going to be having his first major surgery on November 5th to remove his right eye. I need to get an exemption from jury duty because of this. If not, hopefully you guys don't mind my two small children coming with me and sitting on my lap. Unless, I hear otherwise, I am assuming that I am excused.

Sincerely, Christine Reed
Ms. Reed,

Your request to be excused from jury service has been approved. You will receive confirmation by mail.

Thank you,
United States District Court

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Here is a video that has by far been the most convincing, yet graphic illustration as to why abortion is so horrible--- unthinkable. I don't understand how anyone can support a woman's choice to do this. It is of my opinion that if we as a country are allowed to do this, than we should be allowed to murder whoever harms us, threatens us, ticks us off, or merely inconveniences us --- just as easily. Honestly, what is the difference? I can't understand why so many are unresponsive to the war that is being waged on the most innocent lives of all.

Just click on the video on the right hand side of the site, but beware, this might change your mind. Are you open and willing to have God work in your life at this very moment? Every woman thinking of doing this, should be required to watch a video like this.

I also want to encourage you to read this. It was lifechanging for me.

So was this........ but even more so. Redeeming Love changed my life so much, second to the Bible, that I went out and bought at least five copies and handed them out to friends and family.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Playing with Forks

The other day we went to McDonald's. We sat outside and ate---- Sveta called it a picnic. As we were finishing up our food, Adam came over to our table and asked if we wanted any fries. One of my daughters quickly reached for the fries even though she had just as big of a pile still on her wrapper. "Sweetie, you shouldn't take those fries when you have those to still finish up."

"Oh, yeaaah," she mischievously replied with a sly look on her face. Just one of many little things that we are working on daily.
Today after school, Annalyn thought it would be cool to make a fork sculpture. She was incredibly relieved that her $600 clarinet wasn't lost after all--- the bus driver found it last Friday and was holding onto it until someone claimed it. I so wanted to take away this privilege from her, but John helped me to see how giving Annalyn another chance was in her best interests if we wanted to teach her responsibility. So, even though she temporarily lost her instrument, she has another chance to prove to not only us but to herself that she can be responsible. Come on Annalyn, you can do it!

For snack today, Julia made everyone Top Ramen--- mmmmm!

Andrew was so sweet with Dennis tonight. Isn't this adorable?

Annalyn has been bugging me to cut her hair. I was glad to see her happy face when she looked
at the back of her hair in the mirror. She thinks she looks like Ramona Quimby. What do you think?

Dennis is learning to drink from a cup on his own.

How smart is this?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Digest 4

crispy said...
I have asked before and still wondering what the answer big is that table and where did you get it? How many does it seat?

Our kitchen table, which is actually two put together is 16 feet long and always has seating around it for 16. However, it can easily sit 22. We bought it at a local oak liquidator store where we were able to special order the fabric for the chairs.

Mary said...
I'd like to know what cooking for a large family is like. I usually cook for four, so I can't imagine what it's like to cook for three times that number of people every night! Do you find that it's pretty similar to cooking for a smaller group, only you just make more of each dish, or does it require a very different approach?

Cooking for a large family is not that different than cooking for a small family. Over the years as our family grew, the amount of food that I prepared naturally grew too. It is not like I had to learn overnight how to cook for a crowd. Sometimes the prep and clean-up work can be a little tiring, but thankfully I enjoy cooking so much and I have plenty of helpers that it isn't that big of a deal. Soon, I will be sharing some recipes that I have found to be especially yummy, crowd pleasing, and fairly easy to make.

Nikki said...
I have a question for the next digest in response to the one asked today regarding the girls speaking Russian. You said they barely know any anymore... do you have any plans on getting them in lessons so they can keep the language? Do you do anything with them to keep the Russian culture in them alive, if that makes sense? I plan on adopting my kids in 5(ish) years (although probably from Haiti and Ethiopia) and find it really interesting to hear adoptive parents thoughts on language and culture... although that probably also has a lot to do with me getting a degree in cultural anthropology :) Thanks, and I look forward to reading more as always :)

First off, I am thrilled that you have a heart for adoption. What a wonderful road you plan to travel. As far as re-teaching my kids Russian, I don't think we will be doing that. Spanish would make more sense where we live, LOL. But I do believe in keeping their Russian culture alive. I am Russian myself, so this isn't very hard. We talk about Russia and Ukraine on a regular basis because it is a part of who my daughters are. Since they were older when we adopted them, they have a lot of memories and I don't want them to forget them. I try to cook Russian food like borscht, compote, Stroganoff, and potatoes. We have Russian trinkets around the house, and we play games to see who can remember the Russian names of things. I suppose if they wanted to re-learn Russian we would let them pursue this as long as their other studies were fairly strong.

Denise said...
I am a stay at home mom with 3 adopted children from Russia. Well, they're toddlers.. I find it so hard to live off of 1 salary. How do you do it. Any suggestions.

Our family is blessed that I am able to stay at home. John's salary has continued to meet the demands of our growing family in the form of raises, and to honor his hard earned money and stretch it to meet our family's needs, I have learned to run a tight ship. For the most part--- we don't try to keep up with the Jones'. I am constantly looking for ways to cut costs and live within our means without making our kids feel like being part of a large family makes them do without. I would say that my top three secrets to being a good steward of our money is tithing, using things until they have completely worn out (the kids do not automatically get new backpacks every year just because it is a new year), and helping my kids to realize that there really isn't anything that they need that they don't already have.

Connie said...
Hey sis, I nominated you for
a blog award :-)

Thank you so much. I feel honored. I am so glad that I inspired you to start blogging again because you do an awesome job. I think it is a wonderful way to keep in touch. I pass this award to Heidi, Maleri, Kathy, Carrie, Jen, Rachel, Carla, and June.

But the real question is, did you go and vote for me? Just kidding. :)

Faith said...
"I couldn't even think of starting a new project until my first book was done---- and I finished it last night!"Umm...what? I never heard about that! Please do dish!!

I'll share in a couple days, I promise.

beth said...

Questions I have:

1. Do any of your children take medications for behavior issues?

2. Your table, that everyone is interested in, does it happen to be a Broyhill-Attic Heirlooms piece? It looks a lot like mine.

3. How do you handle the constant "noise"?

4. With so many kiddos what things have you learned to overlook?

(1) None of my kids take medication for behavior issues. When William was in kindergarten and we insisted he be evaluated because of Autism like behaviors, the school wanted to have a pharmacologist be part of the IEP team. I was adamant that I did not want to go down that slippery slope and would not allow a pharmacologist to be part of the team. William, with his issues now recognized has done a total 360 in school and is now the best behaved student in his class--- no joke. I'm not sure why he still struggles with certain behaviors here at home--- but nothing is even remotely bad enough to warrant any kind of medication in our opinion. I think he feels that home is the one place that he can be himself which still includes saying Binky and Dad at least 100 times a day. If one of my children all of a sudden became really aggressive, suicidal, or had a change in behavior that was totally out of character for them and medication was the best option, I think we would definitely consider it after exhausting all other resources.

(2) Already answered. (3) The noise level is naturally loud in our house. For the most part I have come to accept it and ignore it-- accept when the phone rings. That is when I get louder than all of them and shout, "BE QUIET RIGHT NOW!! I AM ON THE PHONE!!!" Great example, huh? (4) I have learned to overlook very little. I run a tight ship. My kids know I run a tight ship. My husband is 100% onboard and he is an equal co-captain. But, we honestly try to practice what we preach and we dish out tons and tons of love while we are parenting. Our kids are really good kids and because they know how the ship operates, they don't do too many things to make it go off course. And I must mention that we are all about grace--- but that is different than overlooking something.

dj said...
My husband and I are thinking of adopting. Most of my family is against it and two of my friends think it's a wonderful thing. What are your feelings about adopting out of birth order?

We have adopted out of birth order four times. Each time it has worked out beautifully. While we may sound totally "out there", we just felt that a child should not be considered or not considered for adoption based solely on their age. When we adopted Rachel, she became our oldest daughter, and if you were to ask any of my kids, it was and is not an issue. What reason could be good enough that would trump a child not having the chance for a family? Would it be that my bio daughter might not be the first to walk down the aisle? Big deal-- what would God say about that? Or might it be that my oldest son might have to let his new sister hitch a ride in his car to school in the morning? He should be thankful to have a car if you ask me. Now, I am not saying that any of my kids have said or felt this way, but honestly, if they did I don't think we should be adopting another child because in my opinion if my kids felt this petty about such non-important things than I should be focusing on raising the kids I already have to have hearts more like Jesus and less like the world before trying to add another child to our family. (sorry for the run-on sentence)

Pat said...
Just a purely educational question, what are your thoughts on professional counseling for the kids. I obviously don't know much about RAD or other emotional disabilities but I don't recall you mentioning it and I haven't seen a discussion of it on other blogs. Have you had to struggle with RAD? This seems, by your posts and how well your children are doing, to be one disorder that fortunately bypassed you.Again, just purely educational for myself

Good questions. Both of my girls were said to have RAD. One family was doing the Nancy Thomas approach including strong sitting. I don't want to go into too much discussion since I am not a "professional", but I will say that my girls do not have RAD nor have they ever been in therapy.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dennis in the Box!!!

Dennis wants my camera so bad! I think he wants to play Mr. Photographer.

Time to go wake him up to go pick up his safety glasses and get the kids from school!

I rented "Facing the Giants" and bought candy and popcorn! What are you doi

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Julia, my first daughter

My daughter Julia has a unique place in our family. She is my only biological daughter. When she was born, I had to keep checking her diaper because I couldn't believe that I finally got my girl. After her birth, we went on to have three more boys. She was our princess for seven years.

We always hoped to give her a sister, so when we decided to adopt it was only natural that we wanted to adopt a girl. Who knew that we would eventually end up with four more girls--- all within a 31 month age span. Needless to say, Julia was no longer the princess of the family. Now there were five!

During the beginning stages of our very first adoption of Anna and Sveta, we got some very hurtful comments. "You don't know what you are doing. You are going to forever change your children's lives and possibly screw them up. Why would you want to risk bringing in someone else's child to raise when you don't even know them?"

For us, it was a wake-up call. Quickly we knew which friends were supportive and which ones were not. For us, the idea of an adoptive child ruining our family was as ludicrous as saying that one of our six biological children might ruin our lives. We believed then and believe to this day that a child whether bio or adopted are exactly the same and therefore any sister that we gave Julia would be a blessing no matter how God joined them to our family. A biological child can just as easily cause problems in a family, and to avoid adopting for fear that an adoptive child could mess up our perfect little family was essentially saying that God was not big enough to get us through the hardships. I know better than to doubt my God. I think having this attitude from day one is what has carried us through the good times and the bad.

Anyway, Julia has handled our growing family with such an unselfish attitude, that at times I feel like it is just to good to be true. I mean how can she just be totally fine with sharing all that was once hers with four sisters now---all of whom could be totally annoying to her (and vice-versa)? There is a balance that I feel like as a mom I have to maintain with all of my children---- yet they each need something a little different. I am totally up for this challenge and find it very rewarding to be able to help each of my children feel special in their own little way.

With Julia, it is making sure that she knows without a doubt that she holds a special place in my heart (I will never forget those first seven years where it was just her and I) and I understand that she might struggle with feelings of jealousy while still letting her know that her sisters are just as important and special as her in their own way. I want her to know that I am aware that it is not only her sisters who have had to adjust to their new family, but it her that also has to adjust to them now being a part of our family. Make sense?

The other day Julia was very emotional after school. She was quiet, irritable and a time bomb waiting to go off. I picked up on it and right away thought that it must be one of the times that she was regretting having so many sisters. I was waiting for her to tell me about some huge fight she had had with one of them on the walk home from the bus or something.

As I was sitting with her on her bed, I kept trying to guess what was wrong. I was sure I had it nailed and was rehearsing how I was going to address her feelings. I wanted to be sensitive to how she was feeling yet I knew that I would have to remind her that wishing for them to be gone was wrong because they were forever a part of our family just like her brothers---- though I am sure she would like to snap her fingers and have one or two of them disappear at times.

When she finally told me what was wrong, a huge sigh of relief came over me. This had nothing to do with her not wanting sisters-- nothing at all. A big shame on me for automatically assuming that this is what was wrong. I should have given my daughter more credit.

"Today we were weighed in groups of three. And I was the heaviest, and this girl told everyone in class." Julia was devastated. I was angry that the school was still weighing the kids in front of each other after all of these years knowing full well how sensitive weight issues are in this day and age. Julia is not fat, not even close and she is very tall and beautiful, and fast meaning she is all muscle, yet now because some insecure girl decided to shoot off her mouth to embarrass Julia, now I have a daughter feeling that she is too fat. Did I mention that I was angry?

But at that time all I could do was to try and pick up the pieces of my daughter's embarrassed, broken heart and help her to realize that she is one beautiful girl. I shared with her my experiences as a very overweight girl in school that always tried to wear the lightest clothes that day just so I would weigh less. I remember those days of being weighed and they were very devastating to my self-esteem.

I am so sorry that Julia of all girls had to experience this (even when it shouldn't be an issue), but at the same time, it was a beautiful moment that the two of us got to share. It reminded me that maybe, just maybe I don't praise my children enough or tell them how beautifully and wonderfully made they are.

And just like my other daughters, Julia is amazing from the inside out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Time Flies--- Dennis home 1 month

Our youngest son Dennis..... the baby of the family....... has been home a whole month already! I remember like it was yesterday...... we were all sitting up till very late at night on July 18th waiting for John and Dennis to arrive home from Ukraine. Ever since Dennis joined our family, our home has been filled with his jabbering, squealing, and most recently laughing! It is such a wonderful sound.

Dennis loves his blue car. He also loves to lay down where ever and when ever, just like this, to take a break and just chill. I wish some of my other kids would do the same. :)

Isn't he a sweetie?

Here is Dennis with his blue car again....... and my tupperware (actually an old yogurt lid I pretend is my tupperware).

Dennis thinks he is such a big boy now! He can actually push Jonny around and then Jonny will push him around. Imagine that...... sharing.

I told you he can walk. And he will follow Jonny all over the place.

Couldn't resist another bath picture. I think Dennis is approaching "chunky." ((clapping))

I love his baby fat. Maybe for the first time ever, I'll get to say I have an actual "chunky" baby. All my bio babies were always lean and thin.

Dennis can now sit in his high chair even if we are not feeding him. It took him a while to realize that you can have fun just sitting in it and interacting with the family without food being in the equation. We like to put him in it because it puts him more at our eye level so he can see what is going on. Speaking of seeing, we have been told that while it looks like Dennis is tracking with his "bad" eye, he is not able to see out of it because it has atrophied. Yes, it will be removed eventually and replaced with a glass eye.

Here is a very short video of Jonny and Dennis playing together. Jonny is one amazing big brother to his amazing baby brother!

One last summer outing!

Yesterday we went on our last family outing before school starts. Honestly as cheap as I am, it was wonderful that our adoption agency "God's Waiting Children" was having this get together for adoptive families and host families or else we probably wouldn't have done anything at all because I would have thought it would cost too much money. Since going to the lake for the day cost hardly anything at all except for gas, we were able to splurge a little with the kids, and they loved it!

We left our home around 9:00 am and stopped for Starbucks. As the Starbuck's employee kept handing me drinks I wondered what the people in the car behind me were thinking. Hehehe.

On the way we stopped to fill up the van with gas and get Subway sandwiches. I wonder how William got up there.

Here we are at the lake. It was an absolutely beautiful day. Dennis really enjoyed the water and sand.

Here are William, Andrew, Julia, Annalyn, and Sveta on a boat.

William, Annalyn, Andrew, and Jonny stayed close to shore with me when the other kids swam out to a big rock with John.

Adam made it to the rock first! Look at those slowpokes swimming far behind.

Finally they made it!

Did I mention how interested Dennis was in the sand? He wanted to touch it, taste it, and rub it in his hair. I was so worried that he would get it in his eye.... but he didn't.

Dennis was content sitting at the water's edge with the water gently lapping at his feet.

Sveta was waiting to ride on the boat again. She loved it!

Andrew and Jonny got into a mud fight. They played and played and played!

Daddy took all the kids out kayaking. Here he is with Annalyn.

Rachel and Anna bottled up the shiny sand. They were convinced that it must have gold in it.

Poor Adam looks like he has had enough of the sun..... don't you think?

The day was really fun! All the kids enjoyed themselves. It was really nice getting to meet so many nice and amazing people.

Here is a picture of Dennis and Andrew on the drive home. I just can't get over how much more smiley Dennis has become over the last week!

As a final treat and awesome way to end the day, we all went out to dinner at Mimi's Cafe. You would think that after a long exhausting day in the sun the kids would have been cranky and tired. Actually they all behaved great and dinner was really wonderful.

Here is Jonny, Caleb, Andrew, and William waiting to be seated.

Here I am with Caleb who I think desperately needs a haircut. What do you think?

A sure way to tell the kids are growing up???? Now we have four ordering off the adult menu!

It was nice to have this "last summer" day before the kid's go back to school next week. However, I am thrilled that next Thursday I will send my brood off to school!