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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

32 comments:

  1. I had to laugh at the jeans, underware and belt thing because I am sometimes greeted with the same. I have a similar laundry rule about turning clothes right-side-out and charge 10 cents for socks and 25 cents for clothes that are turned inside-out. For the fisrt few months of this rule...I got rich!!

    Peace,
    :)De

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  2. I love reading about your girls' progress! God has really gifted you and John in how to raise them with boundaries and lots of love.

    Your underwear story just gave me a college flashback of a roommate that would try to extend the wearing time of her undies and turn them wrong side out and wear them again......and would sit on my bed (the bottom bunk) after the flip.....UGH! :)

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  3. Hi I found you through Where's my angels blog & I just wanted to thank you.
    You are a very inspiring woman & I think more moms could learn a lot from you.
    Your family is BEAUTIFUL & you are AMAZING!!!
    Thank you for sharing your stories.

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  4. ok, this is kinda crazy, but I'm really still learning to cook....do you have any of your recipes in a PDF that could email me? I can't even cook a stinkin baked potato and my daughter is dying for me to make her one!! How's that for being a lame mom!!

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  5. Thanks again for visiting my blog! I love your story--what I have read of it!! You and your hubby are AMAZING!! What beautiful children!! I am really going to enjoy following your blog!! I will check back often--by that I mean 3-4 times a day!!
    (0;

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  6. What a great post! There is so much I want to comment on, but I would take the whole page!

    I haven't thought about making my family turn their clothes around before putting the clothes in the hamper. I am still working with them on just GETTING it IN the hamper...lol That is a great idea, though because I spend so much time turning socks, jeans, etc... around. I am seeing how a lot of my time can be saved by asking them to do this. We need to start now before we have more children. This was a great tip for me...thanks!

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  7. Our quarters go into a jar toward our adoption.

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  8. Thank you for visiting my blog- I must say, you are such an amazing, inspirational person. I grew up in a home of 12 children- it was something I could never do again! Your strength is such a great example!

    congratulations on the new addition from the Ukraine!

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  9. What a beautiful blog you have! And, of course, beautiful children too. I look forward to reading more.

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  10. Wow, that is a great report on your girls! I feel like we have seen Rachael blossom right in front of our eyes. What a huge encouragement for you this past week!

    I was sad about William's behavior until I read the "angrily shouted at a llama". I just couldn't help but laugh at that. Of all of the things that a kid can typically get in trouble for, you don't usually hear that one! I love that you and John had grace and he was able to repent and go to dinner. I, too, have found that to be a wonderful example of God's love for us. There are consequences, but there is also grace and both are very important.

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  11. Sounds like Rachel is going to be a good Mama someday... She looks like she enjoys taking care of the little ones, and is getting lots of practice!

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  12. I, too, laughed at the belt, jean, underwear thing. I just did the same thing to my middle son last week! It made him nuts because "dirty clothes were on his pillow." It's posts like these that I learn so much from you! Thank you for being real and honest! Your daughters are blossoming and I believe will be beautiful adults when the day comes! :)

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  13. Thank you so much for your encouraging words about your children. I'm especially glad to hear Rachel is doing so well (you know why!) She is a beautiful girl and I am so glad you are teaching her how freeing forgiveness can be. Harboring resentment can eat a person alive and just ruin their life. And it sounds like Annalynn is doing so well, too! What good news.

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  14. I love hearing about how well both Annalyn & Rachel are doing - you're doing a great job there Christine!

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  15. You must feel so wonderful with your daughter's progress.

    I would not have been happy to be woken up by having my feet rubbed as I HATE being woken up. Good that you were a thankful mom. I would have liked the foot massage but later in the morning.

    Your day yesterday turned out well with supper for the family at I Hop. I love breakfast at dinner too.

    Rachel is going to be one great mom from all the experience she is getting helping with the younger ones. I love how you reasoned with her about how she could deal with her past. What a positive influence.

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  16. I have been reading your blog for quite some time and I am really impressed by how you manage to parent all of these kids. God has really blessed you. As someone who works with disabled children and often takes them "into the world", I wanted to ask you about the type of questions you are asked about Dennis. What responses do you use? Are people rude? How do you deal with stares, whispers, pointing, etc.? I always feel a little odd trying to explain about "my kids", because I think I'll give the "wrong answer." How do you know what to say?

    Thank you so much. I am praying for your family and for you.

    Sarah

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  17. I really appreciate your willingness to share the normal day-to-day stuff you deal with. Like your daughter and underwear/jeans thing or your son and his misbehavior. This is pretty typical stuff that so many of us encounter. It's encouraging to hear how you deal with it and it helps me to evaluate my own responses to such behavior. I can stand to improve at time! ;-)

    And we love hearing it when you praise your kids. Again, puts things in perspective and reminds me to praise my own more often.

    Question for ya ... don't know if you've already answered this or not ... what is the response of the hostess or wait staff when your entire family enters a restaurant? Do the other customers stare and whisper?

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  18. The dirty clothes on the pillow reminded me of my husband training our boys to pick up their dinner plates. They kept forgetting (long ago) and so every time they forgot, he would put their dirty plate on their pillow. They hated it and were soon picking up their dirty dishes. He also would toss their jackets out the front door if they didn't hang them when they came home.

    Your girls are getting so big. I'm glad to hear how they're learning and growing.

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  19. BTW I wanted to mention how much I think Rachel favors you. As a mother of 4 adopted children, I get a warm fuzzy when people tell me that. I must say, I don't get it as much for my younger boys, but even I am starting to see similar facial expressions amoung them all.

    Peace again,
    :)De

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  20. Reading about Rachel got me all teary eyed, she is such a beautiful girl inside and out!

    I love how you guys handled William. That was really cool and I plan to use it with one of the little girls I babysitt. They are a Christian family and amazing parents. Their 7 year old has had some behavior difficulties with them, and it is starting to present when I have her. A while back she did something that made me take away her priveledge to have a friend over the next time I sat for her. By the time I sat for her again she had forgotten all about it and was devastated when I enforced my punishment. I feel in this situation doing what you did for William really would have worked for her.

    I would really love to hear about Julia. I feel like I hear so little about her but, what I do hear is always good. I would just love to hear more about that girl of yours too! Maybe I'm to nosy :). Just seems she doesn't get as much blog time as the others. Is she that easy? Lol.

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  21. I have to say that I really admire how you take the time to identify the best way to deal with each child. That has to be hard sometimes! I find it difficult with two and for you, that`s nothing. :)

    Your daughters are so amazing. They`ve come from some very hard backgrounds (which we don`t even know much about, but from what you`ve said, it seems they`ve had it quite rough) and with the love and support and discipline of a proper family, they are just blossoming! It`s amazing to see how well they`re doing. I`m sure there are days when you feel that it`s not that great, but considering where they would be if you hadn`t adopted them, or if they`d stayed with their original families . . . . you guys are doing an incredible job!

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  22. I've said it before, but you really do have the most awesome kids! That says so much about you as a mom.

    Rachel's story sort of reminds me of my own. I didn't have the best life growing up, but I had a teacher who told me that I could "get bitter or better" and thankfully I chose the later! My life isn't perfect, but it's still pretty amazing and God has blessed me enormously. If she doesn't already see that, hopefully she'll be able to see how much she's been blessed in the future. She reminds me a lot of me. I too always wanted a baby sibling. I got one when I was 6 and loved it, but than he grew up haha. Now I've been a nanny for a 3 yr old since she was 16 months and it's the best (and only) job I've ever had!

    btw I had to laugh at your son shouting at a llama. You have to admit, that is pretty funny.

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  23. thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I think you have a beautiful family! I loved the story about William. I have a son who has a very difficult time making good choices. ( he is 5) He tells me he wants to make good choices but his brain tells him to make bad choices. We handle him much the same way, and its so amazing to see him learn and grow and practice behaving after he's been dealt with appropriately. My mother always taught me to remember that Discipline is a derivative of the word Disciple, which meant to teach, which we associate with Christ, and to remember to teach my children with love how to properly behave. I'm not always great at remembering that, but it sounds like your family has it down pat!

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  24. It's wonderful to read of your children's progress. I was especially happy to read of Annalyn's. I know it has been an area that you have been praying for improvement in and I'm so happy your prayers are being answered. Your persistence is paying off, good for you and John for not being weary.

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  25. ok, you didnt need to be so graphic about the dirty laundry, but I am glad she learned her lesson. It seems like she is making huge strides. Kudos.

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  26. Thanks for the hint on the underwear in the jeans and clothes inside out. Sadly my 16 year old can't get it right either. She will have a surprise on her pillow too next time!

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  27. What a fantastic job you are doing, rolling with the punches, keeping the standard high, keeping it all in perspective through a filter of grace. Amazing family, amazing mom and dad, amazing testimony of a family built on a foundation of Christ.

    Blessings!

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  28. What a lovely, dear post about these sweet girls. I am so very happy that Annalyn is making some progress. Love her heart!

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  29. I am so glad to hear about the great progress! Keep up the good work. Kids need good parents, and you are one of them.

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  30. Christine-
    I love the idea of the dirty laundry! I had not thought of that! I am sure that she learned her lesson! :)

    Take care!

    Amy

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  31. I am just in awe of your family. You have so much in your home. I always leave your blog with a smile on my face and a peaceful feeling.

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  32. Thanks for visiting our blog. What an incredible family you have!

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I find your comments so inspiring! Thanks for visiting our family blog, and sharing your thoughts.