Monday, February 27, 2012

And so it begins...

Today begins a few big things in our life.  It's the first official day of soccer practice.  (D is having split practices for a few days this week so he won't be home until like 7:30 for several days.  Stinky.  But it's just the way it is.)

And today, the builder started building our house.  We've known for awhile that we were building.  It's not something I ever in a million years thought I would do.  I am definitely someone who tries to embrace the phrase "Live simply so others can simply live."  (Although my shoe collection probably says differently.)  We've known for several years that we needed to move to a different town, a town that is more expensive to live in.  It's the town we work in, the town where D's soccer boys live, where we go to church.  We have definitely felt God saying we needed to be there to better minister to those in D's soccer world and for the sake of our own family's time management.  To make a long story short, our house has been on the market for almost 3 years.  We actually took it off the market a few months ago but it is really still for sale in our hearts.  (We're just trying to get a fresh start and will relist sometime in the spring.)  In that time, we had many opportunities to look at housing in the town we are moving to.  And with some prompting from my dad, we came to the conclusion that maybe we were looking at the wrong things.  In the end, what we finally decided was that building made the most sense over the long term.  For houses that met our needs in terms of size and simple desires like a garage, a decent size yard with space for a garden, etc. we were always running into houses that while liveable, over time, would require us to invest money  in order to make them what we wanted.  And that investment would eventually end up very close to the the cost of what it would cost us to build.  So here we are...building.

We are actually doing a manufactured house which means it is essentially a stick built house but it will be built in a factory and moved on site.  I've spent the last week knee deep in paint colors and Pinterest.   It's actually been a long drawn out process but we're hoping that we are now on the path to moving forward with it.  We don't have a completion date as we still have some financing details that have to be worked out before the entire house can be constructed.  But we have currently put enough money down for them to frame the exterior, get the exterior items like shingles and siding on, and perhaps even get the house wired.   And so today was the day, the day the company was planning to begin.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Future According to Conleigh

The Beginning:
When Nick and I get married...

The Middle
I will let my kids do whatever they want.  I will let them play with my makeup.  And I won't make them clean it up.  And I won't clean it up.  Nick will.

The End
And we will live in China.  No, wait, Africa!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Just in case you were wondering...

Conleigh:  Mom, guess how many fingers I have on my hand.  5!  (Said with utter shock and complete joy.)

Kenson (while sitting at Culver's, eating supper, in a very loud voice):  I know why girls can't pee outside.  See their p*n*s is underneath and so the pee would just go straight down.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Me, the Kids, and the Senator

Well I experienced my first "political gathering" this week.  Mike Johanns, who is our state senator, was in a nearby town hosting a coffee.  I was brave and took my two kids...right after lunch...which is normally their rest time.  (Hold your applause; either I'm an idiot or I'm amazing.)

I wasn't sure who would be there or what the format would be.  I was guessing that it might be a small crowd of mostly older people.  I was pleasantly surprised to see probably 30 people including a handful of college kids, a mom I know from storytime (plus her 3 year old), a school administrator, the town mayor, and several middle aged small business owners.  (And of course, a lot of older, retired folks.)

I wasn't sure how the event was organized so I debated going.  I wasn't even really sure what my purpose in going was.  There are several issues I've been wanting to write my elected officials about but every time I sit down to send an email, I get stuck because what I want to say is not concise and to the point.  Mostly I think I went because I felt like I had been invited to go and if I had concerns about political issues then really if I'm able, I ought to go and voice those concerns.  Senator Johanns spoke for about 25 minutes, mostly on the federal budget and the national debt.  (Issue #1 I had on my list.)  He then opened the floor for comments and questions which were mostly related to the federal budget.  Issue #2 on my list was comprehensive immigration reform.  Since no one had voiced any opinions on that topic, I did broach the topic.  It's kind of a weird setting because it's really just a chance to have 2-3 minutes of conversation with the elected official but not in a debate, confrontational way.  I was sad to hear him say that his candid opinion was that nothing will happen with comprehensive immigration reform anytime soon.  (Not by the end of the year.)  I was also sad to hear him say that it is easily one of the most divisive issues for elected officials.  He said that between him and his peers, the phones start ringing off the hook when the topic is brought up.

For many of the kids we work with through D's soccer team, they need some answers now.  (Actually they needed answers yesterday but...)  Many people assert that those here illegally should simply go back to where they came from and gain entry to the U.S. lawfully.  What bothers me most about that is that most people don't have any understanding of the desperation people feel when they make the choice to come here illegally and that become a legal resident/citizen is not just as simple as filling out a few pieces of paper and paying some fees.  In the case of the kids we serve as teachers and as a coaching family, they are kids who did not choose to come here.  They came because their parents came.  And now they are adults, who have spent most of their lives living in the U.S. with no recourse for becoming legal except for returning to a country they really don't know and hoping they can wade through the process to gain entry legally.  (Which is literally a crap shoot because 1.  if you were here illegally and deported you then must wait ten years before you can reapply for entry and 2.  the number of visas for unskilled workers is virtually nonexistent meaning their chance of getting a visa is very small.)  For our kids, it means finishing high school and then becoming a "fugitive" so to speak where you are very limited as to what you can actually do in terms of school and work.  I was glad that I got a chance to share my experience as a teacher, to say how crushing it is to watch kids feel hopeless and ashamed because of their legal status.  It is a tough political place but I pray we can somehow embrace some common sense, practical measures that protect our national security while treating people with dignity and fairness.

Through it all, my kids were pretty well behaved.  Of course, every noise they made seemed magnified since we were in an "adults only" type setting.  And one spilled her water glass.  But we managed to last for a full 45 minutes before I decided Conleigh was way too antsy to stay.  At one point in time, Conleigh raised her hand and looked at me, hoping someone official would call on her.  (Alas, no one did.)   Goodness only knows what she would have said...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Drumroll (and pictures!) please...

I was originally holding off of posting any photos of Zeke because I thought I read somewhere that you had to be so far along in the process before you could post any photos online.  Then my friend, Hilary, who is adopting through the same agency asked and found that not to be true.  So without any further ado, a few photos of Ezekiel.

This was one of the pictures that was featured on the waiting child website that he was on.  I don't know what date it was taken.
These four are what we received when asked for an update as we were reviewing his file so I believe these are from December 2011.  The people who took the photos were really wanting to show us how well he could use his hands.  And yes that bowl hair cut looks almost painful.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Conleigh is 5!

After weeks of agony, the girl is finally 5.  (And I'm about ten days late with this post so between her incessant questioning regarding her birthday, the month of February, her party, and cake and my lack of posting, her birthday has now taken up a good 2 months of mental energy.)  This year she was very aware of January ending and February coming which in her mind meant birthday.  (And which could not get here fast enough!)

Her wishes this year were:   pink cowboy boots, waffles for supper, and a princess cake.  It was a little tricky this year as we had her family party the weekend after her birthday so on her actual birthday, there was no cake, just waffles with candles and a gift from us.  (On a personal note, I survived my first venture into making fondant and decorating a cake with said fondant.)  Enjoy the pics!

Take One

Take 5

Take 46...not really but honestly!

pink boots

Waffles for supper

Fish faces with crazy cousin Aunt Sissy Grannypants

New chef hat and apron

Monday, February 6, 2012

Spirituality...with a 5 year old

Oh my little girl!  She is always thinking, perceptive and always ready to state what's on her mind.  This morning, as she was getting ready for preschool, there was some sassy behavior when an adult gave her directions.  I asked her what God thought about that and got no response.  (Other than the mean eyes and crossed arms.)  Since they were supposed to be heading out the door, I asked her if she should pray about her attitude and then prayed a quick prayer outloud regarding having a good attitude.  (More hard eyes and crossed arms but add in a pouty lip.)  I then told her not to worry about it, that I would pray for her while she was gone.  (And then I danced around and sang a silly song with the words "I'm going to pray for you...please don't smile."  Which worked wonders and produced a smile.)  Anyhoo, fast forward to this afternoon and a bit more sassiness.  I told Conleigh how I had asked God for a Bible verse to help with her attitude and asked if she wanted to hear it.  Her response?  A slightly know it all reply of "I know what God told you-I am fussy to all."  There you go.  The gospel according to Conleigh.  "I am fussy to all."

Later tonight, I was taking a bath in our cast iron clawfoot tub when in popped Conleigh.  I had just lowered myself in and leaned back against the cold metal.  As I grimmaced, Conleigh asked what was wrong.  I relayed how the metal was cold and asked if she had ever noticed that when she got in the tub.  "Nope, " she said.  "Jesus comes in and makes my tub warm."  So a big shout out for the Big Guy; His love is especially moving when it heats up your bathtub.

Love this goofy little character, the girl of a thousand faces!

No, she is not just vegging out.  This is her "I'm too cool" look.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

2 Years Home: What Make Me Smile Most

Friday marks two years since Conleigh has come home.  There are so many things I could say about her.  How the death look she gets when angry or annoyed has not changed since she was a baby.  How her flair for the dramatic will probably be with us forever.  How much she has learned in terms of numbers, vocabulary, and letters.

But I think that in the last few months the things that have really shown me her growth have been little behaviors, things probably a lot of other people would overlook.  Maybe they are small and not as monumental as I think but to me, they speak volumes about how she views us as her parents and how her heart is growing.

The first thing that has just made me smile is the frequency with which she asks my permission.  From "Mama, can I eat my snack in the living room?" to "Mama, can I play over there?" to "Mama, can I have another cookie?", she is asking ME.  She is looking to ME as the authority, as the person who she needs approval from.  That is a huge change in her behavior.  Not because she was defiant or disrespectful.  (At least no more than the usual kiddo.)  But because it is indicative of a change in her heart.  She is seeking to please and to do the right thing not because she fears the punishment but because she treasures her relationship.  (Shouldn't that be the goal of all parenting, adoptive or not?  But with adoptive parenting, I think getting to that point sometimes is trickier due to the way fear is often pervasive in the subconscious of our kids.)

The other thing I've been smiling about revolves around a supper time incident from this week.  She was slow to finish her supper so everyone else had gotten up from the table which left Conleigh at the table with a bowl of rice and a plate of unfinished chicken and vegetables.  She had been begging for more rice but at our house, you can't have seconds of something unless you've eaten what is already on your plate.  She was reminded of this and told to eat what was still on her plate.  As soon as we left, she slid the bowl over to get more rice.  Sneaky...she waited until we left.  Full of distrust...she was told that even if she didn't get seconds tonight, there was plenty of rice and she could have it tomorrow.  The rice incident represents a heart that can be very focused on food and a heart that resorts to sneakiness/dishonesty in order to get what it wants.  I stopped her and moved the rice away while asking her to finish a bite of chicken and a bite of vegetables since she hadn't tried everything on er plate.  Then I apologized for leaving the rice so close to her.  (I know, you're thinking that makes NO sense!  But hear me out.  I simply said, "I'm sorry I left the rice so close to you.  I know it's hard for you to not take extra food and if I had moved it away from you, it might have been easier for you to make a good choice." )  Immediately, she was humbled.  She buried her head in my shoulder and said "Mama, I feel bad."  We have been working for months and months to get a genuine response from her in terms of dishonesty (sneaking food/telling the truth).  We have done sour things on her tongue, extra chores, memory verses, etc.. Her response has seemed disconnected, more about her head knowing what is wrong and right but her heart remaining unmoved.  This time, it was different.  I told her she was done eating, that she was not allowed seconds on rice because she took the rice when she knew she was not supposed to but that the rice would be in the fridge as a left over which she could eat for lunch tomorrow.  And she accepted that and went on.  No crying, no fussing, no arguing.

Joy, sweet joy, for this mama...the heart is changing!