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.