Monday, August 9, 2010

This Brave Boy....

had three cavities filled, one pulpectomy, and one tooth pulled with a spacer put in. And he was the best trooper I have ever seen--- way more tough and brave than I could ever be.

Now just three more cavities on the other side that need to be fixed and he will be set!

P.S. Just wondering. Did Paul set a record for most cavities at the first dental visit home? Just how many did your kids have?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My Daughter Annalyn

Annalyn and I had fun taking pictures of each other this evening. It was special getting her to look into my eyes through the camera--- something we don't do enough.

This August makes four years with our daughter Annalyn. She will be the first to admit that they have been filled with many ups and downs. At times it felt as if we were growing further apart and yet we knew there was no other option but to stick together. Looking back, I can remember some of those tough times and appreciate that now things are just not as tough. In fact, they are much easier. Why? Because we have taken the time to learn about each other. I know where she struggles, I know what makes her laugh, I know what makes her sad, I know what she likes.... I know her. And she knows me. We have seen each other at our worst, we have comforted each other when we were down, we have celebrated together during the good times, and we continue to look forward to future memories we will make as a family.
If you ask me, that is what being a parent is all about. It is what adoption is about. It is how we do life around here. And it is a pleasure, a blessing, to be my daughter's mom.


Anastasia is a swimmer! And we didn't even have to push her into the pool!

She is so proud of herself! As soon as she got out of the pool she gave me the biggest hug in the whole wide world!

You should have seen it!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Smile or a Trial?

I can't believe summer is really coming to an end. Days of otter pops and swim goggles are about to be replaced with brown bag lunches and homework. On one hand I can't wait for them to go back to school, yet a part of me has enjoyed the chaos of having the kids home.

Jonny has grown up alot this summer and has branched out from just being buddy buddy with Andrew. Now that Paul is around both Jonny and Andrew are realizing that he is fun to be around too--despite the language barrier! This has been such a privilege to watch--- I am thankful that they are all getting along-- for the most part.

Tonight we had Anastasia read a translated note from us that read that we are certain she can swim, she shouldn't be afraid because we will not let her drown, and that she would be so proud of herself if she would just swim in the deep end. Did I mention that we also told her that she needs to try swimming tomorrow or we will need to do a little prompting? I know I know-- probably not what you would do-- but all of the encouragement we added in the letter made her seem like she accepted us telling her enough is enough-- Now go out and swim!

Today marks the day that Alex has been home with us one whole year! Can you believe it? And he is doing great! He is so cute and charming that it is hard for someone to not fall for him. At a recent visit at Children's Hospital someone stopped us to say that I had the most beautiful child she has ever seen. Wow-- what a compliment.
He is talking up a storm though it is evident that he needs speech therapy. Good thing he will be getting it twice a week! His first day of kindergarten is this Thursday and he will be riding a bus that will pick him up right in front of our house. He is so excited about this! He will have the same teacher that Jonny had last year and the school psychologist asked if I was okay with them doing Sensitivity Training the following Tuesday. Of course!
Alex has had a battery of tests this past week one of which I won't understand the results for until we see the Neurologist again. But-- we did find out a lot about his bladder-- he is going to start on Oxybutynin which will help with his muscle spasms. This is yet another step on the journey to continence. We have a few more tests coming up including an appointment with a Gastroenterologist-- so I am excited to see what is in store for him!
We have decided that Alex learning how to swim at this time is probably not going to happen-- he just drinks too much pool water anytime he is in the pool even if it is just playing on the steps. I am not sure why he does this-- but it upsets his stomach something terrible and so I have not allowed him to put his head under the water anymore. I am no mathematician but I think that no head in the water equals no learning to swim. Oh well. We have next summer!

This picture of Andrew and Dennis is really sweet. Just look at the way Dennis is loving on him.
The other day I took Anastasia to the dentist. She had five cavities filled. She was incredibly brave but the numbness was really uncomfortable for her. I laid across her legs so that I could hold both her hands and comfort her as the dentist drilled. I kissed the backs of her hands as I instructed her to squeeze my hands when she was uncomfortable. Near the end, she finally began squeezing my hands-- and I was so encouraged that she finally trusted me to take some of her pain. She was amazingly good during the whole appointment and took the news well that she had to come back in a few days to have two more cavities filled. When the dentist was done, Anastasia leaned over and gave her the biggest hug and said, "Thank you." It was yet another glimpse into the beautiful heart of my daughter.
Today John and I took turns running behind Paul as he learned to ride a bike. He is so close--- that I am sure he will be able to ride his upcoming birthday present with skill! In just thirteen days we will be celebrating his 10th birthday!
Anastasia and Paul continue to make great strides in our family. They are learning colors, brushing up on their arithmetic, and preparing for school to start in a few days. They recently learned that we don't point with our middle finger here in America. They have mastered writing their names, the basic rules of our home, and sitting patiently through church, doctor appointments, and family time.
The other night we went to Home Town Buffet for dinner. At the end of the meal, Anna showed Anastasia and Paul how to get an ice-cream cone and fill it with shelled sunflower kernels. The cone makes a great container for the kernels and the three of them enjoyed snacking on them while we visited with our friends. When it was time to go, Paul disappeared for a second. Wondering where he went, Caleb saw him walk over to the salad bar, dump the seeds back, and set the cone on top.
Now if you were me-- would you consider that a smile or a trial?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Last Week Before School

I've been buying things here and there for the upcoming school year over the last four months and last night I finally took inventory to see what I still needed to get. Thankfully, only three or four more backpacks and a few more things for Adam and Caleb. For Paul-- well let's just say his eyes were glued to me as I slowly sorted through things and his pile grew. A new backpack, a few shirts, and two new pairs of shorts-- he was thrilled! I waited till Anastasia and Rachel got back from going out to dinner with Cousin Matt and Jenn to go through all of the girl clothes.

Anna couldn't wait to model her new school clothes! Since all of the other girls are around the same size, I laid out all of the new shirts and each of them take turns picking out a shirt that they wanted. It was fun spending time with my girls as they took turns asking how this shirt and that shirt looked on them. Anastasia was so excited and thankful for her school clothes that she ran downstairs to show her Daddy her favorite outfit-- giggling with glee all the way.

Anastasia continues to swim in the shallow end. I am not sure why she lacks the confidence to swim in the deep end but hopefully she will make that leap before swim season is over.

As for Paul, I am just happy to see him still swimming. After he fell into the pool while riding a scooter, I was certain he would be at the very least, temporarily scarred. See--- not only did he get caught off guard by falling into the deep end of the pool, but he then began to panic like he was drowning when he could not pull the scooter out of the water. That silly goose would not let go of the handle bar as the weight of it kept him from getting his head above water to gasp for air. Even though he only struggled in the water for a few seconds until I ran over, jumped in, and pulled him out, I know the feeling of not being able to come up for air must have been traumatic for him. Thankfully, it didn't seem to have any long term effect as I think he is smart enough to realize that what happened had less to do with him not being able to swim and everything to do with him not letting the scooter go to come up for breath. If anything, Paul is an even more determined to try new things and become an even better swimmer.

William had a blast when our friends were over!

Alex and Dennis have "rediscovered" our play set. If I let them, they would play outside for hours.

When Dennis saw the kids playing with water balloons one day-- he was hooked. Everything about them is just so much fun!

Even sisters popping them over his head-- well that's fun too!
This month will mark four years since Annalyn became our daughter. So much has happened over those years--- and I think Annalyn is yearning for a real change. I see this attempt to become a better person on the inside and out as a big challenge for her-- but I think she is up for such a challenge. So much to share about this-- but I'll save it for later.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Out of Nowhere

Thoughts of Russia and birth mothers have surfaced for one daughter. She is not keeping these thoughts to herself and they have infected another daughter. I use that word because they are becoming fantasies and the truth is being replaced with dreams-- and it is becoming an obsession. An unhealthy obsession. For her... for her siblings... for all of us.

It hurts. It hurts her. She is setting herself up for disappointment.

And though I haven't told her.... her obsession to see her birth mother because then everything will be perfect... well it hurts me too.

So many thoughts running through my mind. So many things going on that I just don't have time to share right now.

But I trust that God is going to use this for His glory.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kicking Back and Enjoying the Last Days of Summer

Oh my-- has Dennis turned into a poser? :) Or is he just kicking back?

Or-- maybe he is a poser who learned from his brother Caleb.
Nothing beats late night "No-bake Cookies!"

My sixth daughter... what a gem.
But then again... they all are.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

All The Cousins

This past weekend we had all three of John's brothers over and their families, my sister and her boyfriend, and the grandparents. It was one full house!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Good Examples to Each Other

It is hard to believe that is has been four weeks since Anastasia and Paul came home. Life is easier for them now... life is easier for all of us. We have all had a month to be a family and get to know each other. They have gotten used to our family routine, food, church, expectations, discipline, and overall lifestyle. We have gotten used to having them as our children... the other kids have accepted them as their siblings.

I have learned that Paul doesn't care for lettuce in his sandwiches and Anastasia can eat both a hot dog and a hamburger at the same meal. Anastasia has the most feminine laugh out of all my girls and Paul tends to pout by himself when one of his siblings wrong him instead of causing a scene. Paul loves to draw, and swim, and watch me cook. Anastasia loves to do her hair, sing karaoke, and play with our kitten. They both would have earphones that played "Baby baby" by Justine Bieber glued to their head if I let them.

What I have noticed most is how Anastasia and Paul have been wonderful examples in alot of ways to their siblings. At first I only thought about how my other children would be good examples to them--- how to play in the pool, how to get ready for bed, how to sit still in church, how to put away their plate after dinner, how to make an ice-cream sundae without making a huge mess. I didn't give Anastasia and Paul enough credit to teach the other kids a thing or two. And yet they have. When I took them all grocery shopping, it was Paul who reminded Jonny not to touch things on the shelf, and it was Anastasia right before church who reminded Anna to spit out her gum.

If this has happened just over the past month, imagine how things will be in two months, six months, a year.... five years.