This Thing Called Life

Sometimes it gets in the way of other things like… blogs.  Ahem.

This last weekend has not gone how I planned it… at all.  I have about three blog drafts in various stages of doneness, waiting to be published.  But I haven’t found the time to actually finish any of them!  My 19 Notes post is next and I’m really hoping to get to that tomorrow.

We’re trying to get our thank you cards sent out now for our adoption while also trying to reformulate our discipline/bonding strategies with the little ones.  Some things just can’t wait, am I right? On top of that we have a bit of a health issue that has cropped up in the last couple of days that needs to be taken care of right away, mostly through dietary solutions.  Meaning… unfortunately, the Whole 30 is going to have to wait.

Yes, technically, we could do both the Whole 30 and work on resolving this other issue simultaneously, but that would be hours more work that I simply do not have.  Anyone have some extra hours in their day they aren’t using?  Send them my way please.  Thanks.  :)

So yes, I don’t have the ability right now to follow two sets of dietary rules.  I know my limits.  So for now the Whole 30 is on hold.  For anyone who started with us, I am so sorry!  Please keep going!  I’m always here for encouragement and support, even if we’re not quite doing the exact same thing right now.  We will still be mostly Whole 30 compliant, but I just don’t feel comfortable calling it a “Whole 30” if it’s only a Sort-of Whole 30.  Know what I mean?  Sigh… life.  Sometimes it gets in the way.

Worth it though!  With any good fortune, ya’ll will hear from me again soon.

Blessings,

A Glimpse at One Month Home

So we’ve actually been home for almost two months now, although it doesn’t feel that long.  But I wanted to do an ongoing series from glimpses of a day in our life at one month, three months, six months, etc.  Just to give people an idea of what exactly daily life might look like at those benchmarks when you adopt older children with special needs.  Also because I think it would be fun to chronicle for myself and watch the progress we make as a family.  So the below are two “sample days” from what our daily life is basically like.  These aren’t real days, just days I made up in my head from real things that usually happen during our time together :)

First… the perfect day post-one month home.  Also known as, the day that only exists in my head…  (Not that these things never happen just never all in one day!)

A Perfect Day… One Month Home

I wake up promptly when my alarm goes off at 4:45am.  I say my morning prayers in a concentrated and thoughtful manner while the children sleep blissfully upstairs.  After prayer I drink a full glass of water with my first round of B6 vitamins so that I don’t hit a mid-morning slump, then I begin working on tidying up and starting breakfast.  About 6:00am the children begin to stir and I methodically and lovingly get everyone pottied, dressed and downstairs to eat.  We all sit down at the table at 6:30 sharp and have a delightful meal together.

After breakfas t Jake and I refill the children’s waters and Hope’s bottle, we do another potty break and take everyone outside to play before it gets too warm.  After I get help carrying the children out, Jake says his good-byes and skips (ok walks, trying to keep it realistic) over to the office to begin his work day bright and early.  I read a spiritually encouraging book, take turns swinging the children, do some chores in the yard and enjoy the morning until it’s snack time.

At 10:30am Daddy takes his morning break and helps with another round of potty breaks and we all go inside for a snack.  We spend our time before lunch practicing our sign language, singing hymns, reading books, doing puzzles and other enjoyable, wholesome activities.  At 11:30am I get lunch ready, we all sit down to eat with Daddy at about noon and once everyone is finished we head upstairs.  The children all go down for their naps like precious angels and sleep until 3:00pm.  Mommy blogs and lays down for a nap, making great use of her two hours of free time.

After naps we head back outside to have some more fun until Daddy is done for the day.  He plays with the littles while Mommy goes in to make dinner, which of course was already planned ahead of time so it takes no effort at all to whip up in a hurry.  We decide to eat outside since it’s such a beautiful day, which absolutely delights the children.  Afterwards we have a quick clean up and go for an evening stroll.  By the time we arrive back at the house it is almost 7:00pm and the children are thoroughly worn out from a fun, full day; so we usher them upstairs for bedtime routine.

Hope drinks her bottle while everyone gets dressed and settled in, then we all sit in a big circle and progress effortlessly through stories, hymns, prayers and a bedtime song.  The children listen and sit still and participate beautifully. Everyone gives everyone else goodnight hugs and kisses and merrily hop in their respective beds and fall quickly to sleep… all before 8:00pm.  Mommy and Daddy get some quiet relaxing time to debrief and plan for tomorrow and to do a quick run through of the house to make sure everything is ready for the morning.  Then, by 9:00pm it’s time for everyone to sleep restfully until morning.

Sounds absolutely blissful, doesn’t it?  Ok, so that’s what I think every day is supposed to look like.  Here is how it usually plays out instead…

A Day in Reality… One Month Home

My alarm goes off at 4:45am… I don’t even bother hitting snooze; I just say to myself “I’ll get up in just a second…”  Twenty minutes later I rouse from a light sleep to realize I didn’t get up and sigh frustratedly.  I head downstairs to say prayers.  Hope is awake already.  I can hear her through the baby monitor and keep wondering if she needs me yet or not… I sort of finish my prayers in a distracted fashion and go to the kitchen, intending to get my glass of water and vitamins.  I get one sip and hear Hope making a fuss again, vitamins and breakfast will have to wait… I head back upstairs.  Dirty diaper.  I change her as quickly as I can since Stephen (our light sleeper) was woken up by my walking up the stairs and Hope’s commotion.

I go nurse Stephen back to sleep and next thing I know it’s 7:00am and everyone is awake except for me.  Jake asks me to please get up and help with the kids.  I was, of course, in the middle of my REM cycle so I’m grumpy, feeling sick and fairly useless.  Jake asks what’s for breakfast… I stare blankly into the fridge.  Eggs again?  Since yesterday was Jake’s day “off” and we had doctor’s appointments and errands I didn’t have time to make Hope’s food when it ran out.  It usually needs replenished every three days or so.  So we tag teamed it, Jake cooked eggs, I blended chicken.  We put a video on for the children because, what else are you going to do at that point?

By 8:00am we are finally sitting down to eat.  The kids are grumpy because we are grumpy and I still don’t feel like eating anything… especially eggs.  Jake finishes his bowl quickly and I reluctantly tell him to go to work, since I know he wanted to be there an hour ago.  He leaves us to finish breakfast on our own.  When we’re all done I scramble to find some proper playing clothes for outside, trying to be quick so the kids don’t get into fights and Hope doesn’t start poking herself.  After 45 seconds I come downstairs to find children fighting and Hope poking herself.  I get everyone dressed in a more chaotic and grumpy way than I would like and shoo them out the door.  I carry Hope to her stroller and manage to get Jacob down the porch stairs.  Then I sit down…

That was more work than my pregnant self should be doing I think.  So I sit and watch the kids play, while refereeing disagreements from the sidelines every two minutes.  Children randomly have bathroom emergencies that is even more work and frustration.  After an hour of that I am emotionally done for the day and call Jake over for an early break at about 10:00am.  He helps me get the kids inside and I turn on a movie to try and keep their attention until lunch time.  Meanwhile, I attempt to clean the kitchen.  After ten minutes I realize that I am way too tired to do anything of the sort, begin to wonder why I feel so miserable and remember those B vitamins I forgot that morning.  I look over and my full glass of water is still on the counter too.  Defeated, I go and watch Toy Story with the kids, hand them a bowl of animal crackers, and bide my time until lunch… trying not to fall asleep.  Once the movie is over, if Daddy is still not home, I might put in Signing Time and pretend we did something productive.

Finally Daddy comes home at noon and I try to hobble together a quick lunch, since we’re behind schedule.  The kids eat, Jake makes me eat, there are tantrums about going potty before quiet time.  Everything is awful, but we manage to get all the children at least in their respective rooms.  After about twenty minutes they start to fall asleep one-by-one.  I start blogging before Stephen wakes up at 2:00pm – an hour early.  He won’t go back down, so we head downstairs.  No blog and no nap for Mommy.  The other three get up soon after and I am stuck with an extra hour of “What am I going to do with them before Jake gets back?” as well as a very overtired and grumpy disposition.  I get out the toys and let them play while I hold Hope’s hands to keep her from poking herself.

After a while of trying to contain overly-energetic little ones in a single room, I reluctantly take them outside and do some more sideline refereeing.  Jake comes home a half hour early so I can go lay down for fifteen minutes before I go ballistic on the world.  It helps a little.  Dinner hadn’t been thought out so after hemming and hawing for an hour we finally decide to load everyone up in the car and go pick something up that will be easy and not make the kitchen worse than it already is.  By the time we finally get home and eat, it’s already bedtime for the kids.  We get them upstairs finally around 7:45pm. I leave Jake to start stories while I run downstairs to make Hope’s bedtime bottle.  I sit with her to help her drink it instead of being in the circle with everyone else.   Jake has to stop three dozen times during songs, prayers and stories to correct the kids for fighting, laughing, moving around the room, not paying attention, etc, etc, etc…

At the end of our patience for the day we muster up some goodnight hugs and kisses and begin the long and arduous process of actually getting them to sleep.  Hope is upset after a long day and keeps her sister from sleeping, Stephen refuses to stay in bed, Jacob sings loudly despite repeated corrections.  Jake has to leave after routine to go back to the office and finish up work he didn’t do from the chaos of the day earlier.  I bounce from room to room putting out fires until finally, at around 9:00pm they have all settled down to sleep.  I finish my blog from earlier and go downstairs just before 10:00pm.  Jake comes home and we look defeatedly at one another and decide to watch a show instead of talking… talking takes so much energy, and really who wants to debrief that day?  I sleepily wander up the stairs around 10:30 and pass out, wondering how on Earth I’m going to get up when my alarm goes off tomorrow…

So those are what our days are generally like.  Sometimes it’s more like the first version, sometimes more like the second, and most often a mix of the two.  I think this is what they call Survival Mode.  :)  Thankfully, that is more accurately what it was like a few weeks ago and we are starting to see more progress now.  Yes, it’s been crazy and hard, but it’s all so incredibly worth it.  I remember the crazy times after our bio kiddos came into our family too.  But every single child is worth a month (or a year… or a decade?) of chaos.  For the joy that is set before us is greater than the burden of the moment.  May we all remember this as we go through the inevitably chaotic seasons of motherhood.

18 Notes for 18 Weeks

photo (29)1. Baby is doing great.  Although Mama wasn’t too convinced of that the other night.  I suddenly got super worried that something was wrong.  I felt a kick about two weeks ago and then nothing… at all.  I kept thinking “Any day now…”  And after about two weeks of that I started to be concerned.  Thankfully my midwife lives just a few minutes down the road so I hopped in my car and drove over to check fundal height, hear the heartbeat and get my peace of mind back.  All went awesomely, I felt much better and then…

2. She brought out the ultrasound machine.  I knew she had it, but I did tell her we don’t really do routine ultrasounds.  I’m not a big fan.  I mean I am crunchy, right?? Crunchies don’t do routine ultrasounds… Ok so justification time started in my head. This wasn’t really “routine” after all… and it is a low-level ultrasound so it shouldn’t be too bad… right?  And it might be fun to see the baby just once… ahem.  So I didn’t object.  I was sad Jake wasn’t there to see too, but I did take pictures!  And oh-my-goodness how adorable, and I feel like a first time, giddy mama all over again.

Here is Mambo’s very first picture, baby is looking straight at the camera with super sweet eyes and pooched out lips.  Ack!  Can’t stand the cuteness.  And yes, I have always judged moms who think their babies’ ultrasounds are cute, I mean come on… really?  But I can’t help it… I just want to squish those chubby little adorable tiny cheeks!

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In this picture the baby looks a tad bit more alien-ish, but you can see the whole body and the tiny little legs that were kicking and trying to get comfortable after we disturbed the poor little one with the big, prodding stick.  And, yes, they were kicking the placenta… which is why I don’t feel it.  Good to know!

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And the last one is possibly a favorite, you can just barely see some fuzziness by the face here (it’s a side-profile).  That’s baby sucking it’s fingers!!  I got to see the sucking motions on the ultrasound screen and they were so clear and it was just breathtaking.  I was smiling from ear to ear the whole way home.  Made. My. Week.

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3. God’s Newest Children!  Jacob and Hope were both baptized on Sunday.  Praise God!  It was all quite wonderful and I can’t wait (literally) for people to send me pictures so I can tell you all about it!!

4. So many things, so little time…  This was definitely one of our busiest weeks so far.  Jake did have his day off on Monday, mostly, though he did have a couple hours of work to do.  And the rest of the days have been chock full of pastoral duties.  He was doing so many visits and extra services that today is an office day, as he didn’t get his usual office stuff done during the week.  I think we handled it pretty well though, which is encouraging with Advent peering around the corner!

5.  Learning to reach out.  Zhanna Hope has bug bites right now.  She scratches them until they bleed, poor baby!  Two nights ago she was furiously attempting to itch them and Daddy was sitting with her making sure she couldn’t get to them.  Such spunk this girlie has; she tried everything.  One time she had her hands innocently up by her face, then slowly, nonchalantly moved it onto her leg and… itch, itch, itch!  She got him on that one.  She also had lifted a piece of foam she was playing with up by her leg for a while and hid her scratching under that.  She is wicked smart.

Once Daddy caught on and took her hiding spot away, I think she realized the game was up.  She made the saddest most awful pouty face you have ever seen, then glared at her Dad and tried to scratch obstinately… while he was watching.  He moved her hand away and she looked like she was going to burst into tears!  She didn’t, but boy was she mad.  I knew it was distraction time, so I came to save the day!  I put on my most fun, sweet mommy voice on and said “Come here sweet girlie.”  As soon as she heard me she looked up and reached her arms out!!  She has never ever done this before.  She has allowed us to pick her up before; she has enjoyed being picked up before… but this is the very first time I have seen her so plainly ask for me to hold her.  We were stunned and so excited for this new milestone!

6. She called me Mama!  Yes, she really did, I think!  Ok, so the very next day after the first bug bite incident, we were sitting in the living room and she was trying to scratch again.  I was sitting there this time, covering it with my hand.  After a few minutes of that she started moaning, like she does when she’s grumpy, but it wasn’t just a moan it was a “Mamaaa!”  I immediately turned to her and said “Da Zhanna?  Mama?  Mama slushaiyu Zhanna.”  (Yes Zhanna?  Mommy is listening to you.)  I said it a few times and she was tickled about the Russian but no more attempts to communicate her unhappiness.  So I turned away and sure enough, not a minute later “Maamaaaaaaaa!”  Then I played and distracted and cuddled on her for a bit and no more grumpies :)

Mama was one of the babbling sounds she made when she was still in the orphanage, but this is the first time I feel like she really used it appropriately in context, so I am cautiously super excited :)  Is it possible to be cautiously super excited?

7. Jacob has been having some great days too!  For the first time in weeks he went an entire day yesterday without raging about something, and we’re still going strong today!  He’s also started calling me “Mamitchka” again, which I haven’t heard in quite a while.  Our bonding was pretty temporarily damaged by all the visitors and craziness last weekend, but things are finally starting to get back to awesome and we’re thrilled!

8. Hope had her first swim!  Ok so it wasn’t “swimming”, but she did sit in the pool and she did splash in the water and she did have a really great time!  She sat happily there for a good 45 minutes at least, and she usually hates being outside that long.  I was ecstatic and can’t wait to get her in the water more often.  I am a real fish so it’s always fun for me when my kiddos enjoy the water too!

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9. Sleeping Beauty.  When you adopt, the little things really do become the big things.  This is true for all parents I think, but especially for parents of children with special needs and those that come from hard places.  For her whole life Hope had done nothing but lay in a crib.  The first time we saw her in a stroller she was scared to death of it.  She got used to that fairly quickly, but falling asleep not in a bed?  Not happening.  She has always needed to be laying down.  But the other day we were playing outside on a summery, warm afternoon and I caught her doing this…

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You go baby girl!  I was stoked.  She fell asleep in her stroller… sitting up. :D  Maybe this means we’ll be able to take longer car rides soon?

10. A Blessed Bounty.  I couldn’t write about the past week without mentioning the amazing welcome home gift we were given by the congregations in our area.  They overwhelmingly surprised us with a huge shower of gifts for our family.  I came close to tears unpacking everything and laying it out.  The love from so many… it’s just too much to take in all at once sometimes.  Thank you.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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11. What About Matins?  Umm… oh yeah, do I keep saying we’re going to start that soon?  Hmm… remind me next week.

12. Whole 30 Prep.  In other news, we’re eating all our junk and gearing up for the Whole 30 on Monday!!  Woohoo!  I cannot wait to see our family back on good, real food.  Seriously.  Tomorrow is the big throw-away-everything-non-compliant party.  Remember to join us on the forums!  Here is a link to the thread I created just for our team: September 2014: Team Awesome

13. My Babies (Attachment Update).  Some adoptive parents say that in the first weeks home with their new child they look at them and feel like they are babysitting someone else’s kid.  I must admit, this is how it has felt with Hope and Jacob most days… but this last week something amazing has happened.  All that love I have been acting out is starting to have feeling behind it again.  Several times I have looked at my new children and thought “That is my baby.”  I am bonding and attaching and feeling more and more like the Mommy these children should have always had from the day they were born.  I am beginning to honestly, truly adore these blessings from Heaven.  I’ve seen their dark moments, watched their tantrums, changed their dirty clothes, lost sleep for their sake, been annoyed and frustrated and at my limit… and yet… I still feel so much love for these little people.  It really is starting to come.  We are starting to feel like the family that we are.

14. I’m not the only one!  Jake and I have talked about this and we both sense the feelings growing toward our new littles.  But it’s not just us.  This morning Daddy overheard Evie and Stephen fighting over whose sister Hope was.  It was happily resolved when Daddy intervened and let them know that she was both of their sisters.  :D

15. Hymns are the medicine of the soul.  I have started a new thing where, when I feel frazzled during the day, I just start singing hymns.  We flip through the hymnal and sing for however long or until I can think of something better to do.  Some children enjoy it more than others, but they all love it when it’s their turn to pick a hymn.  Having the words and melodies in our home is like a healing balm on the craziness of our days.  It’s my favorite way to do Mommy Time Outs, because let’s face it, sometimes we need one too!

16.  First Gymnastics Classes.  After a few months of hiatus Evangeline is back in gymnastics.  I think the break was the best thing for her.  She was getting overwhelmed by it, but after being away for a while she was excited to get back and more ready to master the skills than before.  Stephen is also just begging to have “his turn” at the gym.  I’m going to ask about getting him in a Spring class even though technically he’ll be a little young.  He is definitely ready, and potty trained so… bonus right?

17. Kids are too honest.  Conversation with Evie today….

Me: Would you like me to get you a cookie?
Evie: Yes, but I can get it myself.
Me: Oh, you can?
Evie: Yes, because I’m a big girl now.  I’m four and not little at all anymore.

*Part of my Mommy heart breaks a little…*

18. The honesty of kids makes my heart smile… and my favorite note.  The last one because it happened just tonight!  Jacob told me he loved me.  I was saying good night and I love you and he replied “I love you too mom.”  He said it in his not-so-clear way, but I heard every word.  It stopped me in my tracks.  Never before has he told me he loves me in Russian or in English.  This was the first time.  I really believe him.  My heart is full.

The Picture that Pierced My Soul

Sometimes when you go through crazy things, super stressful, super hectic, crazy, surreal times… times that just pass by like a whirlwind of madness… you miss things, like emotions.  I remember holding our daughter in her orphanage.  I remember encircling her thigh with my thumb and finger.  I remember her paleness and her limp body as she struggled through being drugged and hungry.  But I don’t remember feeling any particular way.  I wasn’t incredibly angry or horrified or saddened.  It just was what it was, and we knew to expect it before we came.

And now, as I hold and feed and play with my smiling, giggly little girl… it’s hard to remember where she came from or what she was just two short months ago.  The last few weeks I have had so many comments on her pictures, how much better she looks, how much progress she is already making.  And I will admit I didn’t quite know what they were all talking about.  Then I happened across a picture of her, newly home.  She was sickly thin and pale… it shocked me a little.  I just didn’t realize how much she’d changed, and I hadn’t remembered the state she was in when we brought her home.  The emotions you’d think I would have had initially began slowly creeping in.

And then today… I saw this.

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I couldn’t breathe when I saw it.  I had forgotten all about this picture, taken by my husband when they were stuck that week in Kiev.  That pained look on her face?  Constant.  Her diapers?  Size 3.  Her hair so coarse and matted… her skin translucent from a lack of sun or any kind of fat that might serve to hide the veins underneath.  Her hand poised to jab at her throat.  It was a 24/7 battle to keep her from hurting herself.  She just didn’t know another way to cope.

Tears come when I see this photograph, this little sickly girl that I had forgotten about so quickly…  All that she had been through in her nine years came to fruition in this one, tragic picture.  My heart can hardly bear the abandonment, the grief, the pain, the neglect that her young soul has carried.  And not only do I see her, but I see the other children.  The little girl just like ours being visited by her daddy in the orphanage.  The sadness in his eyes, the reality that she is never going home with him… or with anyone.  I see the faces of the waiting children who can be adopted but who do not have families yet.  I see the need of thousands of orphans in laying rooms all over Eastern Europe… wasting away just as our precious girl was doing.  So much suffering… and yet…

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We still have so much Hope.  I might have forgotten that sickly girl, because she so quickly came alive into the bubbly, feisty princess she is today.  No longer does she scream in pain or fear from simple things like being laid down or being fed a meal.  She is now in size 5 diapers and rapidly outgrowing those.  Her hair is becoming soft and lovely, and her skin is a healthy color.  She is filling in beautifully after having gained six pounds.  She no longer has a constant need for stimming and self harming; she knows that comfort doesn’t always have to come from her own two hands or at the cost of a painful jab.  She is being transformed through love.

And although I know so many little girls will never come home to be their Daddy’s Little Princess… they are true princesses of the Father in Heaven.  And one day… love will transform them too.  It will transform all of us who have been given Hope.  Lord may healing come ever swiftly to your little ones with no place to lay their heads and no arms to hold them tight.  Bring their earthly families soon and prepare for them eternal mansions with You.  Mothers and fathers… see your lost child and come to them quickly.  Lord Jesus, come quickly to us all.  Amen.

Home-Style Preschool

So far this is what we have been doing lately…  (AKA not school).

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Now that most homeschooling mamas have spent all summer planning their curricula and have had pajama parties and fun zoo adventures to celebrate their first week back at school… I have finally got my planning hat on to gear up for the year. Ya’ll know what I was doing all summer (not planning for school, that’s for sure) and with the new family dynamics, we just needed to figure out where exactly our new children’s levels would be at before I could even begin to plan our days.

For those who are new to the blog, we have four children, two newly adopted. Hope and Jacob are just recently home from Ukraine. Hope is nine, but developmentally a baby. Jacob is six but developmentally about four in most areas at this time. Evangeline is also four years old and Stephen is two. So when I talk about home school and curriculum, we are basically doing preschool level activities, so keep that in mind!

However, we are quite settled in and I feel ready to begin! (With a rhyme even!) Today I just wanted to blog about what the goals for our littles is going to look like; then, later I can go back and detail how we’re reaching those goals and scheduling our time. So here is what our learning goals are for this year in each subject:

Christian Living

This early in the ball game they need to learn the vocabulary of the Church and to experience the vibrant life of the Church before they can begin to understand the meat and potatoes of theology or to appreciate the nuances of Church history.  So what do I want my very young children to know? I want them to know the words, the prayers of the Church, the Catechism and the Bible. I want them to sing hymns and learn how to cultivate a daily life of prayer and how to be reverent and attentive during Church. My goal for Evangeline is that she would learn by heart twelve hymns and that she would sing them beautifully.

For the other three I am aiming simply for exposure, to engender a love of hymnody and that the boys would attempt to sing some of the hymns they know, as their language skills are not polished enough for entire songs quite yet. (In English Jacob and Stephen are about in the same place verbally.)  I also want Evie to know the Catechism by heart, and for the boys to be familiar enough with it to speak it from memory when their verbal skills permit.  And my last goal for this subject is to study and memorize, as a family, ten whole chapters from the Bible.  Daddy and I will be memorizing the full chapters, and the children will recite what they are able, according to their abilities.

Reading & Literature

Ah reading, one of my favorite things to do with the littles. For now my goal is just to expose them and teach them to enjoy quality children’s literature and poetry. That’s really it! I am going to be spending about 5-10 minutes a day with Evie on actual reading lessons. She is so ready for them, and it would be lovely to have her reading at a basic level before our school year next year. Not to mention, she just wants to be able to read so badly! How could I deny a desire like that?

Arithmetic

Jacob and Evie are the only two who will be getting any practice in numbers this year. Maybe Stephen will learn to count to ten, maybe he won’t. We’ll see. He will pick it up when he’s ready. However, I do want Jacob and Evangeline learning the basics of addition and subtraction this year. Evie can already add and subtract numbers up to four in her head. We haven’t worked on this, we just discovered it one day! My goal this year is to have both of them adding and subtracting numbers up to ten.  That way they’ll be ready to start more formal arithmetic lessons next fall.

Art & Music

This is one subject I am de-emphasizing. I really have no goals. I would like to do some basic drawing lessons and to get them listening to some children’s songs and classical music each day. If I can do that, I will be quite pleased! We are considering piano lessons for Evie and possibly Jacob, but that will be a ways down the road I think.  Sometimes you just have to cut corners to get everything in, and this is something I’m comfortable cutting down on for now.

Nature Studies

Nature studies! So fun! Ok, so my goals here are to get the littles outside as much as possible. They were truly made for the outdoors! I also want to start teaching them basic directions (N,S,E,W) in relation to our home, the sun rising and setting, which way the wind is blowing, and other tangible markers. I want them to be familiar with the hills and ponds and woods and pastures around our home and for the older ones to describe those places. I also want to start teaching them how to identify flowers, trees and birds in our area.

This will be taking up a lot of our day, especially in the nicer months, and I am so excited. This is more than science; this is endearing them to their Creator through His creation, and it’s learning how to learn through observation! This is giving them the tools to take in information and use it meaningfully.  It’s experiential learning and not just absorbing through books. Both are so important!

History

My goal for history is just to start teaching the children that history exists. Very basic, yes? I have twelve little events from history that I am going to be telling them as stories. With each new story we will do a library run to find other books on the event or person, we’ll do a fun project or field trip, a timeline and markers on our world map, and just make it into a fun exercise. I definitely want Evangeline and Jacob to be able to tell back these stories, even just very simply, by the end of the year. But I’m not holding us to any real standards other than that.

Foreign Language

Another one of my favorite subjects this year! Yet, I have struggled more with this than any other. When we only had one little I imagined that she would be close to fluent in ASL by now and starting Spanish. Ahem… being in survival mode for so long that didn’t quite happen. She does know quite a few signs, but not anywhere near conversational. And with having adopted two Russian speaking children, we have decided that Russian would be a better foreign language than Spanish for our family.

Jacob already speaks Russian, albeit not clearly, as he has a speech delay related to his Cerebral Palsy. But he understands all of it perfectly. I really don’t want him to lose that! Also, our Hope loves it when we talk to her in Russian. Besides, I think it’s a good foreign language for a few reasons, politically there is a lot of upheaval in that area of the world right now.   Russian is an official language of five countries and has 155 million native speakers. Russian is also a difficult language to learn, which means, we get this one down and picking up Spanish, or any other language that our children are interested to know down the road, will be a piece of cake.

We are also friends with several fluent Russian speakers, so our children will be able to have access to conversations outside our family, which is so important for language learning.  Anyway I am off topic. Goals. Right.  So my first goal for this year is that our family would maintain the level of Russian we have.  My husband and I learned a substantial amount before travelling, and our bio kids have picked up several words and phrases as well. I’ve already noticed Jacob’s Russian grammar starting to slip, so we really need to get ourselves immersed in the language more in order to accomplish simple maintenance.  Next year I plan to focus much more intently on Russian, after I have a chance to learn more myself.

So on top of maintaining Russian, we will be really pushing sign language this year. I want Evangeline to be at a conversational level by the end of the year, and for the other three to follow along at their own pace. Signs are a little more difficult for Jacob because of his fine motor skill issues, but I think it’s a great exercise for him!  Hope is also going to benefit from it, as signs will likely be a main mode of communication for her in the years to come.  And if Evie is conversational by next year, I’ll feel super comfortable diving head first into Russian while being able to maintain her ASL and slowly build her up to eventual fluency in both.

PE/Therapy

My goal? Just do it. For some reason corralling four hyper children into specific physical positions and feats is not my idea of a super fun time. Usually I would just let them run around the yard and check off the box, but Evie is in gymnastics and has practice at home to do and Jacob and Hope have stretching and physical therapy that are going to need to be at least a once a day routine. So we’ll just schedule it and give it a name, right? :) Oh also, we caught Jacob doing like twenty push-ups one morning just because so… maybe that might be a fun bonding activity for him and Dad.

Life Skills

And last but not least… or maybe least, life skills. There are two reasons I even glorify this as a school subject. One, My kids need to learn how to be more self sufficient before Mambo gets here. And two, life skills are an actual serious necessity in our home now that we have children with special needs. Tracking life skills will help me to know where Hope and Jacob need extra support and I think we can make it a fun way to encourage everyone to learn new chores and responsibilities. Again, with this my goal is just to do it, to make a chart, track things, encourage the kids to reach new levels… I don’t care how fast or slow they go. Just as long as we’re making a little progress here and there, that would make me more than thrilled.

Who’s With Me?!

whole 30

Before you begin this post you might want to read about what exactly a “Whole 30″ is HERE.

Now that the craziness has died down for a few days, I am refocusing my attention on my family’s health and gearing up for our second Whole 30.  The first one we completed earlier in the year went so well and really made a big difference for all of us.  Here are the results that I wrote down in the Whole 30 Forum after completing our first round (if you needed any motivation to try!)

My husband lost 25 pounds, his pants are falling off of him, and his moods have been much more even.  He used to always have an energy crash in the afternoon, not anymore!  He is eating much better portion sizes and nighttime snacking has become the exception rather than the rule.

I lost 13 pounds, I feel amazing.  I am wearing clothes I haven’t been able to wear since I got pregnant with our first child.  I just feel happier, less mood swings and although my sugar dragon is simply hibernating and not dead, (got to be careful!) my cravings have diminished drastically.  I am now also able to eat small amounts of avocado, banana and kiwi without getting sick.  Those are food sensitivities I have had for years!  I can’t sit down and eat a whole avocado but guacamole is definitely back in my life!

I have noticed the greatest changes in our daughter.  I had no idea that her daily tantrums and mood swings were so tied to her diet.  She must have been living in a constant cycle of blood sugar highs and crashes!  It was terrible.  Now she is very mild mannered, rarely gets in trouble and throws tantrums only when she is extremely overtired.  (She’s had maybe three?)  The transition was hardest on her, but it’s reaped the greatest results.  She now eats tons of things she never would touch before: carrots, onions, raw cabbage, beets, cauliflower, strawberries, apples, grapes, etc.  And when we go to the store and say no to cookies or candy she is totally fine with that!!  

Since he’s still nursing mostly the change didn’t affect our 18 month old son hardly at all.  He laughed as the three of us went through detox and KATT.  [Read about KATT and the Whole30 Timeline here.] But other than that, his palate has opened up to more tastes as well, which is great.  And his tics completely vanished after day 5.  We will be keeping a close eye on it so they don’t come back!

So grateful for the reset this has given our family, and if things ever get out of control again we definitely know what we can fall back on!  I won’t lie, I’m really glad to be done, but I’m even happier that we did it.

This time I’m going to be doing it a tad bit differently.  The first change we’re making is that the little ones are not going to be doing it with us.

We did that last time and it was incredibly hard.  Now with a language barrier and attachment issues in the mix, there’s no reason to make things more difficult than they have to be!  For the most part, everyone will be eating the same food at mealtimes.  I will make a couple little adjustments here and there for the kids, a little sprinkle of cheese on their taco salad, a peanut butter sandwich for snacks, etc.

Even with those compromises they will still be eating 100% better than they are now!  And it will still be hard, and it will still be an adjustment.  But it will be an adjustment with a little comfort on the side for the littles, and that’s ok.  I also am not going to take their raw milk away from them.  That is one yummy treat that their little bodies need!  This minor tweak for the kids will make it easier on me as far as meal planning and expense.  If I have some cheap and easy, but mostly benign, fillers in their diet, it helps make sure everyone has a full tummy without Mommy going crazy.

Whole 30 eating can get expensive and it is a lot of work.  Not making the kiddos do it 100% with us is a happy compromise we’re willing to make this go round for success’ sake and keeping our long term health goals in mind.  One other thing I am doing this time is a proper reintro!  In our first Whole 30 I felt there was too much going on for that.  Big mistake.  All that hard work right down the drain!

This time I will be resisting the urge to splurge!  Instead we will do the suggested reintroduction of foods to our diet and try to hit a great balance that works for our family for the long haul.  Rather than just jumping back on to the donut bandwagon of doom…  Ahem.  And so here is the part where I invite you to be a part of our second Whole 30 Challenge!

If you like what you see, join us.  The more the merrier!  Support in a group is awesome.  If you want to do a Whole 30 at or around the same time as our family, and want to join our “team”, I will be making a thread on the forums just for our little group.  All you have to do is leave a comment here, email or message us on Facebook to get connected!  For those who are interested I have linked some important resources to get you started:

The Shopping List: The perfect handy sheet to take to the grocery store with you so you don’t forget anything!

Meal Planning Template: How to arrange the food on your plate to have a truly Whole 30 meal experience.  You must remember to follow this template in order to get the full benefits of your challenge!  Also note that nursing or pregnant women and children have different needs.  I eat two extra mini meals a day along with the little ones in order to get enough of what I need.  This is where the forums are really helpful in making sure that you are getting the right portions for your body’s individual needs!  Your Whole 30 can potentially be miserable and totally unsuccessful if you don’t follow the meal planning guidelines, and we don’t want that!

Whole 30 Tight-Budget Style: This was truly a life saver for me those first few grocery trips!  If you don’t have a fortune to drop on food (which is most of us) and you are wondering how to make this work, this link is for you. You can do a Whole 30, even if you have a food budget that won’t quite… budge.  ;)

The Produce Planner: Want to spend less and get more out of your produce shopping?  This guide helps you choose seasonal (fresher and less expensive!) options as well as giving tips for what is important to buy organic and what you can buy conventionally with no worries.

If you are planning on joining us, don’t forget to sign up for the forums.  It’s free, of course!  I will post a link in sometime this week when I have a thread set up.  Be sure to meet us there!  There is a ton more information on whole30.com so just go check it out and start plan, plan, planning for a successful challenge!  We will be beginning our challenge on Monday, September 8th.  You don’t have to start that same exact day, but it’s kind of fun to all be in the same spot on The Timeline.  Excited to get back to real food, definitely can’t wait!

P.S. – I also wanted to add that I am not affiliated with the Whole 30 website in any way, nor do I get any kind of compensation for promoting their challenge.  I am doing this purely because I truly believe in it, I would love to help others on their journey to health and it’s so fun to do as a group!  I know this blog post kind of looks like an advertisement, and maybe it is, but it’s certainly not monetarily motivated advertising!  Hope to see you at the forums on the 8th!

 

What a Weekend

My blog has been a little quiet lately, and I really did miss doing my Notes for Weeks post on Saturday, but I had not even a second to come up for air!  I do have lots of notes for next week though!  And as for the baby bump picture, I didn’t officially take one, but I’m sure I will have plenty to show you from the Baptism to make up for it.  I just didn’t take any pictures at all that day, so I can’t post them till people send them to me! (Hint Hint! People with pictures!) :)

This weekend was so much crazier than I anticipated.  Between the Baptism, lots of family coming into town and a sick toddler… with lots of curve balls thrown in between, I am just happy we survived it quite honestly!  I am even more thankful that our two newest blessings are now officially a part of our Lord’s family; they have a Father who will never abandon them, never fail them and who has died for their very presence at His table.  He is the perfect Father, and what a gift to know that they belong to Him.

Will write some more later and share pictures, of course!  But for now my little Mambo and I have some rest to catch up on and a grocery list to write.  May you all have a blessed week.

Brothers & Sisters

I wanted to spend some time talking about how all the siblings are doing together.  Sibling dynamics are a huge part of making a family work, especially in out-of-birth order adoptions.  We talked extensively with our social worker before the adoption about how adopting children older than ours could potentially affect our family life.  Most of the information we received was along the lines of, “It’s really hard on the biological children.”  And I definitely don’t doubt that this can be the case much of the time.  Every family is different and you have to know your kids and what their limits are, as well as your own.

On the other hand, adoption comes with a lot of question marks.  There were sides to my biological children I hadn’t seen before their new siblings came home, both good and bad.  Behaviors and reactions to the stress and change that we didn’t anticipate.  I think it’s important when adopting to realize that there will always be unknown factors, and the more siblings you add to the mix, the more unknowns you have.  As parents we have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.  Although we were prepared for that, thankfully, our transition has been far from worst case scenario.

So today I just wanted to give you a fun glimpse of how each pair of kiddos is getting along, the good and the not so good as well.

Evangeline & Jacob

Jacob is six years old and Evangeline is four, however, Evie is still slightly older in all practical senses due to Jacob’s orphanage delays and the global neglect of the nurturing of his mind.  That has seemed to work really well dynamics-wise.  Before adopting them we expected to be artificially “twinning” them developmentally, and although I fully expect Jacob to catch up and for this to be the case down the road, at this point she is still functionally the oldest child.

I think this has made the transition much easier for her.  Both of her new siblings are older than she is, but age is just numbers, and nothing has truly changed with her place in the family.  The language barrier is most difficult for these two.  They are both quite verbal enough to give directions during play time, and it is frustrating for all parties when there are misunderstandings.  Jacob is beginning to get more frustrated when she takes the lead, so I’ve had to step in and redirect her eldest child initiative a few times.

This seems pretty minor, though, and typically these two play extremely well together.  They are both on the same level of play on most things, so they have imaginative parties and games together and enjoy it quite a lot.  I think, out of the three, Jacob has taken to Evie more than Stephen or Hope.  I don’t know how “attached” he is to Evie, or if he would even miss her were she replaced with another playmate, but at this point they are functioning as great playmates and friends.  I do believe that she is encouraging his development, as she is just a tad above him, which stretches him to meet those developmental milestones as well.  And it’s so so helpful to me that they entertain one another!

photo (23)Jacob & Stephen

Now Stephen, on the other hand, is quite a different ballgame.  I am not sure exactly what caused his territorial behavior, but as soon as we came back home with Jacob (Daddy and Hope were still in Ukraine for a week) Stephen went from accomodating host to… quite honestly, a territorial menace.  Blatant atrocities began occuring: hitting, kicking, stealing toys (not to play with, just to taunt Jacob and make him upset), deliberately running to get in front of him so he could stand and block him from moving, etc.

I was shocked and in horror… what happened to my good-natured toddler?  He had become a monster overnight!  These weren’t learned behaviors, these were things he was coming up with on his own just to be mean to his new brother.  He had never seen or experienced these things, he just started doing them.  I knew he was scared, his Daddy wasn’t home, but Jacob was.  Things were crazy; Stephen didn’t know what to make of it.  But I was determined to end the cycle.  The last thing I wanted was for Jacob to think the kids at home were just as bad as the ones at the orphanage or for their relationship to become a permanent sibling rivalry.

My adopted-never-lived-in-a-family-before son actually took it very well.  He never lashed back at Stephen, but always just called for me or waited for my sure intervention.  This made it so much easier to quell the unrest, and I have no idea how Jacob showed such great self restraint, but I was so proud of him!  I never let them play alone together because I couldn’t trust Stephen with him (totally the opposite of how I thought that was going to be, btw) and I watched the kid like a hawk.

After a few weeks, we were all together and settling in and Stephen became more comfortable again.  He got used to the idea of his big brother.  He still does typical little brother annoying things, but no more monster Stephen!  Their relationship isn’t quite the same because of the offenses, but it is growing and they do very well now.  I think it helps that whenever there is an offense on either side I ask that they give hugs and affection when saying apologies, so they actually hug each other more than anyone in the house!  Stephen doesn’t play at Evie and Jacob’s level yet, so he tends to ruin their games just on the merit of his two-year-oldness, which annoys Jacob to no end.

But I am now convinced they are truly going to grow into their brotherhood and will be very close as they get older.  Jacob is the first person Stephen asks about in the morning, and the first child to come to me with concern in his eyes when Jacob is upset.  There are beautiful things blossoming.

photo (21)Hope & Stephen

As much as Stephen didn’t like Jacob being here at first, he embraced Hope from the beginning.  Since she is developmentally a baby, he took to her so sweetly and kindly.  I think that she seemed like much less of a threat, and the older brother role just fits him like a glove.  He loves to help me throw away her diapers and give her her bottle.  But instinctively, I also think he somehow knows that she is older and bigger than he is.  And in true toddler fashion, he loves to imitate her.  I’ll catch him poking at his neck or rolling his tongue just like she does.  It’s perfectly harmless how he does it, and I just laugh, but it drives Daddy bonkers!  This is a super cute picture of them though.  Stephen was trying to give her a kiss and she was not so sure about that! :D

photo (20)Evangeline & Hope

So I don’t have favorite children, but I do have a favorite bonding pair.  These two together… just brings tears to my eyes thinking of them.  Often when I find myself tired and stressed and ready to pull my hair out I look over and watch Evie nurturing and loving her older sister and it melts my hardened heart.  I have thought more than once “She is being a better mother right now than I am!”  And indeed, if there is any sibling that Hope has bonded with at this point… it is Evangeline.  She loves and adores her, and no wonder, Evie will sit and cuddle and play and talk sweetly to her all day long.

While I am cooking and cleaning and breaking up arguments and trying to catch my breath, Evie has no other responsibilities and is totally free to make sure that Hope always has her favorite toy, has someone to make her laugh, has enough blankets or isn’t poking herself too hard.  She brags about her new sister to everyone she meets.  I thank God daily for the gift that these two are to each other.  Hope has brought as much joy into Evie’s life as Evie does into hers, and it’s a marvelous thing.  How amazing and beautiful is the pure, unadulterated love of children.  I surely don’t know how they ever got along without one another.

Evangeline & Stephen

Yes, our two bio kids, but I thought that their relationship was worth mentioning.  We’ve seen their dynamic change too since the others came home.  They have become closer.  I do believe this connection will wane with time as our family begins building a common history together, but instinctively they know that they have a common history that the other two do not share.  We all live in one house, eat at one table, play together, pray together and live as one big family… but Evie and Stephen share a little more than the other two do.  At least for now.

They are incredibly close, closer than they were before.  There is very little bickering between the two, and the play together angelically most of the time.  Stephen follows her around and does whatever she says in true little brother fashion, and they hold hands quite often.  It’s such a joy to watch them grow in their bond, and it was an unexpected blessing.  My prayer for them is that their closeness continues to remain even after this transition time is past, and that they will also learn to become equally attached to their new siblings as we build those connections together as a family.

photo (19)Hope & Jacob

And finally, our two new kiddos.  There is not very much to say about these two.  Jacob did not interact much with Hope at all at first, I don’t think he really knew what to do or how to approach her.  There were no babies or very delayed children in his orphanage, so her developmental level was a new experience for him.  He was not afraid or hesitant of her, he’s always been very accepting and affectionate.  But he just doesn’t do much in the way of interaction.  This is slowly changing as he watches Evie and Stephen help me with her.  In the last week I’ve noticed him trying to put her blanket on or play with toys with her, which has been sweet.  It will be fun to watch how they grow up together, and I can’t wait for Jacob to embrace his “big” brother role as time goes on.

First Haircut!

Ok so it’s not literally the first time his hair has ever been cut… but it is the first time it’s ever been cut with love and attentiveness, for more than just practicality’s sake.  It is the first time he’s ever gotten to look at pictures in a book and pick his very own haircut, or the first time he’s gotten to sit in a fun swivel chair with a little booster on it.  It is the first time he’s had a Mommy to wipe those annoying hairs off of his face for him, or that he’s watched the strange ladies put tinfoil on their heads.  It is the first time he’s had a room full of ladies gush about how cute and handsome his new hair is.  And, most importantly, it’s the first time he’s gotten to eat a sucker and go to the playground afterward.

So I don’t know… I guess for all intents and purposes… it really was his first haircut.  And I had to document it, of course.

Going to miss that fluffy hair!  Although I know he won’t with the way the heat has been lately…

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So hard to sit still… it tickles!

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My handsome prince. <3

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Someone else got a new haircut for the big weekend too!

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CHEESE!!!!!!!!!!  Had to take pictures for Stephen as well.  Not his first haircut, but the first time with the clippers!  He laughed hysterically.

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And Mommy hates it… he’s not allowed to look this grown up.  Can we get that reversed please?  Ahem….

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And as much as he looks like he hates it, I think he mostly hated all the hair in his eyes.  Poor kid was definitely ready to be out of that chair.  And yes I did cut his bangs properly when we got home, because when I asked her to fix Jacob’s bangs she just cut them shorter and more crooked instead of cutting the one little patch she missed.  So I just let those stragglers go, but they’re gone now.  :)

And so am I.  Have a good night!

16 Notes for 16 Weeks

photo (15)Yesterday was the start of my 16th week so it’s time for round two of Notes for Weeks!  Man those weeks are flying by.  Baby is going to be here before I know it, and I don’t even have any paperwork or travel planning to do.  Woohoo!

1. Almost Feeling Kicks.  Last week at our midwife appointment baby was kicking up a storm.  I couldn’t feel it, but we could hear it while listening for the heartbeat!  In the last few days, on the side we heard baby, I have been feeling some pressure.  It was like the baby was stretching out and pushing against my tummy.  Or at least how that felt, not quite kicking, but almost!

2. B12 is My Favorite Thing Ever.  I have been waking up around 4:00-4:30 every morning for the last four days or so.  And guess what?  I feel a ton better than I did when I was sleeping in till 7:00am!  I contribute it to my new favorite friend, B12, who I mentioned before was coming back into my life.  I don’t know why I ever let it leave in the first place!  I am in love with my whole food vitamins and won’t ever take a chemical based vitamin again.  The difference really is night and day.

3. Embryo Adoption.  One of my favorite blogger mamas is adopting again… this time they are adopting four little ones… very, very little ones.  She and her husband are taking a leap of faith into the world of embryo adoption.  I encourage you to check out her fantastic blog.  This issue is something we really need to be discussing as Christians.  What is embryo adoption, what isn’t it, and as people who value life in every stage – how do we approach embryo adoption Biblically and ethically?  Or can we at all?  There is a lot of confusion and controversy over whether or not it is moral for Christians to be involved with such things.  I am hoping to put my thoughts together in a blog sometime soon.

4. A Note on Attachment.  Because I wrote very openly about our attachment with Jacob in a previous post, I wanted to address it just briefly.  Please know that we are doing great for the short amount of time we’ve been home, and we really couldn’t be happier with the newest additions to our family.  We are slowly and surely making gains in this area, but we are also realizing that we need to be very cautious of his needs and limits.  There are so many people who want to love on our sweet new kiddos, and I love that.  Unfortunately, some love is just too much for a child who doesn’t yet know proper boundaries.  I’m trying to think of a tactful way to address this with everyone, pray for wisdom for me on this.  It’s so hard to ask people to step back from their generous heapings of love on these precious kiddos who have never had it at all.

5. Baptism Next Week!  For all those who are local, we invite you to join us on Sunday the 31st at 10:00am for the Baptisms of our sweet Jacob and Hope.  Our family will be hosting a light lunch in the fellowship hall immediately following the service (cake included of course!) and make sure to bring a casual change of clothes for a fun water party after that.  If you have kids, bring their swimsuits or something you don’t mind them getting all wet in!  We will also have plenty of extra sets of play clothes on hand in case anyone forgets.  Please come join the fun!  We are so excited to celebrate Jacob and Hope’s adoption into God’s family.

6. Cuddle Time.  I took this picture this morning before Church.  Hope was playing on the floor and Jacob cuddled up next to her.  Just too precious not to share, right?

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7. Sisters and Friends.  Speaking of siblings, Hope seems to be attaching amazingly to Evangeline and vice versa!  Evie is so attentive and loving toward her, and Hope just soaks it all up.  Stephen will help, and Jacob is becoming more interested in that too, but Evie is always going over just to spend time and play with her.  She lets me know if she needs something and runs off to get her favorite toys if they got left in another room.  Evie loves to tell people about Hope and how sweet and pretty her new sister is.  They love sharing a room and are already getting into trouble for giggling during quiet time!  We were told by people before we adopted Hope that if we brought her home her extra needs would ruin our other children’s lives… I’m pretty sure Evangeline would heartily disagree.

The picture below is from the other morning.  Evie had woke up at 4am crying, so Hope was awake too.  Neither could fall back asleep, so I took them downstairs.  They cuddled, “read” stories, and laughed together for an hour while I cleaned.  Watching these two bond is one of my greatest joys.

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8. Stimming.  I have mentioned a little bit about Hope’s stimming behaviors.  They’re getting better.  She no longer does them 24/7 and it’s usually only when she’s tired, overwhelmed, bored or frustrated.  It used to be all she thought about, but now she is learning that there is a huge, big world to enjoy; she is more comfortable and we are seeing less of the self-harming.  It still happens a lot, but it’s no longer constant, and for that progress we’re grateful!

9. We Made it to Church!  This morning we attempted church again, and we did great.  I was so proud of all my kiddos.  Hope was overstimulated and struggled a bit, but we managed well enough.  We had help from a few lovely people during the service for which we are very grateful!  This is one of those times where I really wish my husband was in the pew with me and not the pulpit, but I estimate in a few weeks we will be able to make it through an entire service on our own.  At least hopefully before baby comes, right? :)

10. Round Ligament Pain.  Yes, ouchies.  Random little movements make it feel like I just pulled every muscle in my abdomen.  Round ligament pain is the worst thing about the second trimester, in my humble opinion.  It’s been making me pull back even more from holding the little ones, which is tough.  But praising God that this is the only real discomfort I’m dealing with so far!  This has been such an easy pregnancy up to this point, and for that I’m incredibly thankful.

11. No Matins Yet.  Sigh… I know I mentioned it before… but we’re not there yet.  Maybe this week.  Trying again :)

12. Gaining More Weight.  Hope and I are in a contest to see who can gain weight the fastest.  Unfortunately, I’m winning, but she’s making progress too!  She gained a whole other pound this week and we are certain she has some new inches on her also!  She looks and feels taller than she used to.  Can’t wait for her next check up to see where she’s at!

13. Routine Game.  One of the best moments of my week.  I was making dinner and went into the family room to see the three kiddos sitting on the floor in a circle doing a “bedtime routine” for their “babies” (who happened to be Noah’s ark animals…).  They did everything exactly like we do every night.  They sat on “their” (couch) pillows and “read” stories.  Next they sang hymns from their “hymnal” (Amelia Bedila book).  Although Evie has a few memorized so she actually was singing hymns.  Then they folded their hands and prayed the Apostle’s Creed, Lord’s Prayer and Luther’s Evening Prayer.  Last they sang our bedtime hymn, “Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadow”.  They sat still and attentively for twenty minutes reinacting that together!  I was amazed.  I wish they could do that at nighttime too :)

14. Blog Needs Updates.  If you haven’t noticed my sidebar and the pages on my blog are still incomplete and pretty outdated.  I want to get everything set up, but I will probably have to take a week off of blogging to do that.  I’ll give you all a heads up when that happens so you can know not to expect any updates for a few days while “construction” is going on. :)

15. Thinking of Taking the Plunge Again… the Whole 30 plunge.  I miss eating healthy; it’s really good for the baby.  I want to start up again.  Planning on doing a round beginning next week after the Baptism, let me know if you’d like to do the 30 day challenge with me for some accountability!  The more the merrier I always say!

16. Please Continue to Pray.  We are still in need of 114 more signatures on this petition in order for people to be able to find it in a search on the White House website.  This is so important, and we need to reach that milestone quickly to have a chance at reaching the volume of signatures needed for President Obama to release a statement.  Please, please sign if you haven’t already and share this with others you know.  The precious lives of our Christian brothers and sisters, and those of their children, are at stake.  If you have already signed, thank you!  Please continue to pray.

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