Saturday, December 11, 2010

The simplest of things...can make the hardest of days.

Ahh. Life is truly going well. TRULY. :) Just know that sometimes my blog is a venting board :)

My frustrations these last few days have been the lying and the peeing. Yah. Don't you wish you were me? Mr. Duka does not quite seem to get it that lying just will not work. Especially when Mama or Daddy saw what *really* happened. Sigh...

Then the pee'ing. While the night peeing seems under control..the daytime peeing in the pants...is definitely worsening. We've noticed lately that Chazano well...he's been getting away with a LOT. We are now finding out that if it weren't for us RIGHT there when he undresses for a bath/shower...he would be able to sneak his clothes into the hamper...soaking wet. This is happening at least 1x a week with him now and I have a hard time believing it's a new trend. Which means...he's been hiding it pretty well. No more.

Last night we had a Christmas party with our Bible Study group. Kids all had nice new clothes on and the twins were looking pretty cute. All was well until at bedtime I started unbuttoning Duka's shirt and he head-butted me (nice) in an all out speedy effort to pull down his pants at the same time. That was my redflag. Um...why the rush? His pants were drenched. Chazano is standing behind him watching us with a rather nervous look on his face. I turn to him and say "Chazano did you pee your pants?" him: "yes" me: "when?" him " when I was playing at the people's house" yes.Hours ago. They don't tell anyone. They just pee and sit in it. AHHHHHH. Both of them were drenched. And...while I was brushing their teeth decided they needed a shower b/c they stunk of pee.

Scream.

Yes I know they have attachement issues...but I'm not going to lie. That is not fun. We have 3 bio children younger than them that have zero accidents. Azahria isn't even peeing in her pants. And yes it admittedly gets less exciting the older the child is.

Ahhhh.

Good news. We are healthy. Very healthy. And truly doing well. We had a family over last week with 5 kids. A homeschooling family (um...not all homeschooling families are alike). I was crying by the end of the night because of how horrifically bad their kids were and rude and talking non stop about their video games of blowing people's heads off. Oh no problem. Then telling our children how very baby'ish their toys were and that cool kids play shooting video games. Oh. Ok. By the end of the night the peeing in the pants and lying issues seemed totally fantastic in comparison to five really bad attitudes!!

With zero pride that night I was on my knees thanking God for the wisdom to raise children with grateful hearts, cheerful attitudes and just plain pleasant to be around.

Oh.. and tonight I'll say a prayer that I didn't kill yet another Christmas tree! Seriously! IT was doing FANTASTIC and I think I just missed watering it by a tad and now it does not seem to be drinking the water anymore. HONESTLY! ugh.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's looking Christmassy around here!

Today after church we were driving to go look for a tree and Zion said "Daddy...I want to go down to the wiver" ;) We told him the river was quite cold...meaning...the air too. He said "oh no...I don't want to SWIM in it, just go LOOK at it". Why not. You know...we are still young enough to remember being kids and thinking "why couldn't we do that....?" :) So we drove down to the river, opened the doors and let the fab 6 run free. Well...with some boundaries. Stay on the path and go to the bench swing. What fun they had. We sat chatting in the suburban watching them all laugh and play and knowing some super fun memories were made...with very little effort on our part. They pushed each other in the swing and Zion leading the way, showed them how you could run and jump back onto the swing ;) No injuries, all laughs. The girls came back after 15 minutes or so and Azahria wanted "hugs" and Tirzah wanted "to be with Azahria Peace" :) I love our family. Ahhhh so we called the crew back in and away we went. We found some deco at Big Lots...including a 6' tree for the play room...that will look pretty in the middle window from the outside. We bought tons of lights for inside, lit garland for the stair railing, and lots of ornaments. The kids were so excited. Dean went to pay with Chazano and Zion (it's a random taking turns event) and I took the 4 others to go to the car but ... Starbucks was RIGHT there...and I do have this $25 giftcard...(like $11 left actually;) burning a hole in my pocket...and yah. We went in and everyone oogled and googled over our kids. So funny. They are thinking "oh so sweet, pregnant mama and her 3 bio and one clearly adopted child!" I just smile. Yah. There's 2 more with Daddy :) Anyway it got us free samples of gingerbread in Starbucks (never had a sample there before) and Mama got the fabulous Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (yes...worth paying Starbucks pricing for a hot chocolate on this one!).

We met Daddy and 2 at the suburban and stopped at a Christmas tree sale to see 100% of proceeds went the local Firefirghters (yah we're all about supporting a charity!). So there we got our tree. I have to say...some nervousness since the last 4 years I've managed to KILL a real christmas tree...long before Christmas...but Dean assures me he'll keep this one alive!

So there you have it...we came home and while I was unbuckling Azahria and Azlan in their 5 point harness carseats...apparantly Zunduka pressed the button from the back row to flip the middle seat that I was leaning over...up. There are big rules about this...actually just one...do NOT push that button til the entire middle row is empty. It flips up hard and fast. And it's always Zion's job. I've just never showed the twins yet but they still always hear me say "wait til the middle row is empty". Well this hit me like a bomb. Seriously...I yelped and while seeing in black and white, hobbled inside and slouched in the office in heart wrenching sobs. My earring was on the driving, my glasses were jammed into the side of my head.... but you know...I'm real enough to know that if I ever cry because of pain...it's really nothing to do with the pain. It was a good excuse to cry. I knew it. So did Dean. Neither of us said anything. He sweetly came in and held me and told me how sorry he was. I stumbled upstairs curling into a fetal position on our couch in our bedroom. I knew I had deeper pain that needed to be dealt with. Feelings of pressure and being overwhelmed, in a few areas. Dean's construction business hanging on by a thread (thank you God for our other business that pays all our household bills and expenses every month)...and the construction business debts that if we hadn't lost that HUGE job in the early fall...would have been 100% cleared before going into winter :(. Ahhh. It was a good cry. A cry that reminded me of hunching in a Zambian hotel in the bathroom with a pillow or towel (forget) shoved into my mouth to muffle the sounds...after losing our precious baby. It was healing. Dean came up and when I told him he said "I knew the cry was much deeper, you don't cry over pain". My ear was beat red and my glasses still hurt behind my ear...it did hurt...but not enough for me to cry over. I came downstairs to see a nervous Zunduka saying he was sorry. ;)

We made lunch for the kids...yah...I'm not good at this Sunday lunch thing. Member those days when every Sunday you came home from church to a turkey dinner or roast on the table...? I can pull it off any night of the week but Sunday?? It's not my thing. It needs to become my thing b/c I find myself feeling dread thinking of what to make even though our church is at 9am and we are home by 11. For the first time in 7 months ... I took a nap. Yes...you read that right. I do not nap. And yes...I'm pregnant with our 7th child. That's a true testament to the nutrition I supplement with that has transformed my energy level since February. I napped I think...b/c I had exhausted myself with this heartwrenching sob. Once I peaked open my eyes, not quite asleep, I saw a sweet Azahria Peace sitting beside me quietly reading books. Have I mentioned that I love my family?

When I woke, Dean was standing beside me saying "we have a surprise for you, the kids are all waiting..." so I went downstairs to see the tree was up and all lit and the kids were BEAMING! So we put all the ornaments up. Yes in a painful style...each child, one at a time...every 3rd one crashing to the ground. ;) Then Dean put up the garland on the stairs. I fed the kids dinner and the kids and I went upstairs to the playroom. We finished putting the ornaments on the kids' tree in the playroom and then went through the playroom with "goodwill" bags. It's tradition you know...we do this before Christmas (and a few times in between) every year! It makes room for new toys and I show them how all the toy bins are full so we can either just stick with what we have....or....we can go through and see what we don't play with anymore and give it to a place that will help other children play with them. They get excited and we filled 2 bags. Where does this stuff come from?? Good question. Most of it seems from their "dollar store" shopping or Tirzah's favorite "grabber game" toys...either way...it's on it's way out of here ;) The play room is spic n span and while Daddy and Zion ran out to Pizza Hut I put the 5 others in bed. Zion came home and hopped in as well. Silence. 8:00pm. A pizza for Dean and I. A fully decorated (minus the outside) house. Sweet.

This was our day. It was pretty wonderful and despite walking into the bathroom to brush the kids' teeth and it smelling like an outhouse (yes I'm pregnant and yes my smelling is multi-magnified...but it stunk) and seeing wet grout on the floor. Ahhh. Thankfully Dean came in and talked straight to Duka and said we are serious about this and there is ZERO reason for him to be missing the potty (especially since they SIT!) and peeing on the floor. It's nasty. I scrub our bathrooms more than 90% of families, I guarantee it. Ugh. Anyway...a good day. A good night. To all.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Why am I running from this post?

I am. I keep thinking it's time to do an update and ... it doesn't excite me. Fabulous, right? Ok, well here I am.

Let's see. Life has been so crazy. Nevermind, that's nothing new. ;)

A few weeks ago after Dean hearing me say (...no joke for the first time since Tirzah was born)...that I really need a break...he planned a get-away, complete with sitters...for the 2 of us to Portland. We went on the train, stayed downtown Portland for one night and 2 days and had so much fun. Really just loved it. And I loved that he didn't need a reason. And...I love him.

We came home to snow and to elated kids. Because...it was snowing. Tirzah especially. So normally you make this quick trip to Walmart for winter boots for your one or two sweet kids and all set right? Yah. Well try doing that for 6! ahhhh!
We even managed to snag the last 2 sleds in Target and take the kids up and down the street which they just loved.

Then last week Dean's cousin Shani's husband passed away. We decided pretty last minute to leave on Thanksgiving day and drive 6 hours to Kelowna, BC for the funeral. It was one of those trips that we were so glad we took. I think it's pretty rare to be in someone's presence ... that leaves you with chills b/c you know you are the presence of someone truly great. Well this was unique. We were at someone's funeral...and you left feeling blessed to have been able to mourn the loss and honor someone...truly great. I cannot say it better than that. As Dave himself said "we will know exactly how we should have lived...5 minutes after we die". While his family mourns...Dave is no longer bound to his wheelchair in a failing, yet youthful, body. He is free. And oh if we all could only stand so strong...in such intense trials.

We have been home to freezing temps for a week. We decided to "do thanksgiving" when we got home and you know...I had a horrible moment of 'dread' of celebrating another holiday...solo. We all talked about the many things we are thankful for and had a nice evening together.

Updates:
Tirzah now has 4 adult teeth in. She had her first dentist appointment a few weeks ago and LOVED it. Hmmm. I was nervous today when she had to have one tiny microscopic cavity filled and she hardly flinched for the needle! She is reading and loves being the big sister that can read to the other kids. :) I daily hear her hug Azahria and say how much she adores her.

Zion ...that child just melts me. He has this total giving, serving heart. He sets the table every night and wants to load the dishwasher every night. He is the first to hug and the one to want a special one on one moment late at night as they are all tucked in. He adores his middle name and thinks God will make him indeed strong and brave and courageous because...well...if your middle name is Courage...it's a good thing;) No one, NO ONE can interpret Azlan like Zion. He has mama beat and that's pretty good! He would rather play with Tirzah than any of the boys any day and often tells me how much he misses all the Zion-Tirzah days. When he prays sometimes before dinner he'll often pray that "we will obey mama and daddy and do the right thing" and we can't help but open our eyes and smile at each other!

Azlan ~ well he's my boy. Yes I have four of them. God opened up a new chamber in my heart when Azlan was born~~and He knew there would be days I would need that extra chamber. I adore him and I pray often for the patience to help my boy. His drooling is back. Full force. But I'm working with him a lot. We pulled him out of speech therapy because well....30 minutes of bubbles and board games is...NOT...speech therapy. And everything they do with him...I sit in disbelief as we do that daily. So we made the decision to concentrate our efforts on one on one time with him, him and mama. He plays lots with the twins and loves all things train, blocks, etc.

Azahria Peace ~ she's a special little girl. She's adorable, simply put. She gets many random squeezes from both of us throughout the day b/c ... well she's just so darn cute. And sweet. And ... she not only looks like Zion..she has his heart. She loves to serve. She and Zion are our helpers (by choice..the others...they have to help too ;). The other night I was putting her to bed and after singing the song of her choice to her she looked at me and said "mama?....you're the best". I came downstairs beaming and Dean says "of course she says that, you say that to her all the time". I seriously did not know that I do. Funny. She loves playing with PEOPLE. "little people" and we often hear her playing with Azlan saying "by your ginny-ginn-ginn...I'll huff and i'll puff...and i'll blow!" and I laugh so hard I remind myself of Dean's mom with tears streaming down my cheeks. And then I go squeeze her. And ... likely say "you're the best" ;)

Chazano ~ seems to be doing really well. I would say the biggest struggle we are having with Chazano is the inability to connect. He has this huge insecurity and fear and would rather be goofy than look you in the eye. In fact if you ask him to look at you...he zones out and looks past you. Even in a nice, huggy moment. So instead he acts silly. ALL. THE. TIME. It's something we need to work with him on...it's great he's silly...but it's another thing to learn when it's appropriate. I find the 'twinness" isn't so strong anymore. They will go play with the bio kids and be separate without looking for each other for hours. He has his first dentist appointment next week and my guess is 3 cavities. :)

Zunduka ~ ahhhh. Zunduka. The child that stretches me more than any other. :) Well lets talk good news. Good news is this is the second night he's in his bed. Like for real, bed! It's a trial and he still can only have a sheet on top b/c we've found that when he's too cozy he becomes lazy and pees in his bed. On the way home from BC ... 3 time...yes....3. In a row. He said "daddy...I have to go potty" to which our normal response driving down the freeway is...'ok, hold on a few more minutes' for us to find a safe stop. No. Dean immediately pulls over after looking back and seeing him crying. He's peed his pants. So in other words, he said he had to go potty AS he was peeing. Fantastic. Ok. Took care of that. Not a few hours later, SAME EXACT incident. And then repeat again. Not ok. This is something we find with him ... we cannot slip up once or he runs with it. The first time we were really light on him and I said to Dean "i'm concerned he'll do it again, it's his pattern if you go easy on him". And .... he did. Ok we only went away for 2 nights and had limited clothes and he was quickly going through what little we had ... plus...it was none too exciting adding yet another stinky outfit to the back of the vehicle and mopping up our seat.
The other thing that is a real struggle is obedience. Now having said that...we don't practice telling our children something once, twice, three times until we lose our cool. We tell them once. Obedience is immediate. Makes for an awesome relaxed family :) Well we have learned to 'spy' on them and it is always Duka that is disobeying. Silently. But disobeying. And he moves at lightning speed and if he hears the floor so much as creak he gets back into position and you try not to second guess what you just saw. Example: last night they get a bath. After the bath I dry off Azlan, Duka, Zano and Zion and Duka ends up being the first one lotioned up and ready to go his room. He is the ONLY one that did not bring jammies to the bathroom so I could get them dressed quickly. They were all told to. Then I said "go into your room, get clean gotchies and jammies and get them on quickly". Ok I help Zano, Zion and Azlan all get ready then go to the other bathroom and dry off the girls and get AP dress and lotion up Tirzah. I get to the boys room to tuck them in and who is standing in the middle of the floor...totally naked...why yes that would be Zunduka. Ahhh. So I ask 'what did Mama tell you to do?' he looks at me and says "get jammies and gotchies on quickly" I said "ok so did you obey or disobey" he looks at me blankly and says "disobeyed". fantastic. There you go. That is one example of many. But in many other instances soon as I would enter the room he'd be running to the drawer looking for clothes. He too has a dentist appt next week and has 3 very brown molars in his mouth and definitely the most horrible breath of the two of them (which I'm told is decay by the dentist) and ... welll....I'll pray for the best.

My day still consists of much surrender. Other days...consist of me running from the much-needed surrender. Those days are much harder. There have been many soft sweet whispers from God on a dark day..and I'm constantly reminded that this is simply not about me. It never was. It's not. It never will be. And suddenly my eyes get in the right spot and things become so much clearer. There you have it. My long - longed for update ;)


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Life.

An update. Hmmm. There's lots that happen in each day...yet sometimes not much to write about :)

Tirzah had her 7th birthday. We are a 'party' in itself so very few guests make the list ;) She was a princess...(switched last minute from a cowboy...hmmmm...) and we had a really nice party for our sweet girl. Sometimes we look at the innocence in each child and think "if only they could stay this way"... Tirzah's bedtime prayers about Heaven and how she can't wait for "the castle to be ready", her thanking God that "this baby is going to live" after crying over the 2 that went to Heaven already, her every-day telling us "I'm so glad God gave me Azahria Peace as a sister, b/c she's the best sister ever". ...

Zion has this hunger to be wherever you are. He loves to help. No ... he loves to serve. He loves to "just be with".

Azlan .. has a tendacy to get a bit lost in the crowd perhaps but we make lots of attempts to single him out. He adores his mama...and now his answer when asked 'why do you love your mama?' is "because she has a baby in her tummy"..hmnmmm.

Azahria Peace is definitely our daily dose of 'melt me'. But don't be fooled. She is not spoiled. She is sweet and loves to say the sweetest things.

Zunduka is the touchy feely one. All for an 'all-four-limb' hug at any time! :)

Chazano still seems to make all the kids laugh at any moment. Zion thinks he has earned the title of 'the funniest one' and that is quite a gift to receive that from Zion who was titled that not long ago!

Thankfully our weather has still be really nice so the kids play outside .. a lot. I finally went and filled the boys' drawers with play clothes (why is that the hardest thing to purchase...??) since shorts and t-shirts are officially not in their drawers ;) 3 winter coats purchased, 3 to go! haha.

Duka is still sleeping on the floor. He has a pillow and a sheet on top. He was doing really well and then last week pee'd the bed, but didn't tell us and instead hid all his soaking wet clothes in with clean dry clothes in his drawer. (a nasty find by mama). So the floor is his bed for a while until we can be sure the habit is formed and will not disappear in the comfort of a mattress.

You know what's hard to teach a child...? Gratitude. It's just a long term investment into your children..to teach them gratitude. It's a worthwhile one on many fronts though. Not long ago someone read this blog and was horrified at the thought that we would teach our children (both biological and adopted) to be grateful. For all we have. We were told "teach gratitude is so harmful to your adopted children and will have longterm negative effects". We humbly...disagree. It's not just for children...as adults we are nothing without our Father. He is the giver of every good gift and we receive...and give thanks. This recently came up in convo with our kids and Tirzah and Zion could not wrap their minds around the fact that we said "this is God's house" ... 'how come we don't see Him?' ... 'How come you clean it then?'.... 'How come you pay for it...?' the innocence of the questions were cute...but the reality is that it is from Him, the work to pay for it is from Him, the ability to clean it is from Him and usage of it...needs to honor Him.

It seems to be one thing to teach a child to say 'thank you' and another to teach them to have a heart of gratefulness. We are committed to this, for all 6 of our children.

We had the ultrasound for our baby at 19weeks. We found out that we are expecting our third little girl and quite excited about it;) We were also told that a 'soft marker for downs syndrome' showed up on our ultrasound in the form of an Echogenic Bowel. I was sent to the maternal/fetal specialist (same one I saw when pregnant with Azlan) and just 2 weeks later this was no longer seen. It was most interesting that the #1 cause of this being found then disappearing is that the ultrasound technician isn't highly trained or skilled in looking for the markers and if the machine is not set at the right setting, it can be a false reading. The 'problem' was that my u/s tech...is from the maternal / fetal specialist's office. So she is highly skilled. I saw the pictures at my OB appointment today and the bowel was as bright as the baby's spine in color. We don't have the answers for this ... so we just wait. They say it's highly likely it's nothing, and since we are not willing to do further testing (because of risks or high false positives)...we just wait and trust in God that everything He has for us is for our good.

I'm now 23 weeks pregnant and have a sweet baby that moves... a lot! I'm enjoying every bit especially since I'm no longer sick. Ahh I can breathe again :)




Thursday, October 28, 2010

Looking up.

Things are looking up. No one can truly prepare a parent of biological children for the heart transformation needed in order to attach to your adopted child. Things are looking up.

It's been a busy few weeks. Something that I have loved is that Dean has done several days of the schooling. It is confirmed Duka and Zano are about age 3-4 level as far as what they can handle in school, by Dean as well.

We've had a great fall so far with not one cold or flu (and that is something to be very thankful for when you have 6 young children! It would start with one and spread like wild fire).

Duka went through his roughest spell since coming home...with 6 nights in a row...peeing his bed. Making it worse, a few of those times he chose to lie about it. :( He's now on his 2nd night of being dry.

It's been a rough week. Monday morning I had my ultrasound. Had the u/s tech write the gender in an envelope so we would open it at home, on video, to share with others. When I got home I sat at the computer and looked at, what I thought...was emails from the night before...only to quickly discover I was reading an email within 2 minutes of it being sent. A very good friend of mine from 9th grade to high school...recently married in June of this year...moved to Mexico and missionaries...and his wife suddenly died Monday morning. I was sick. Physically ill. Even in Africa I think I always had words to pray everytime I prayed. But this week...I have prayed without words. Many time. When you just cry out to God and sit. And no words come and no words are necessary. There are no words. I don't want to ask my all-knowing, always good... God...the unanswerable question 'why?'...I just sat in the warmth of his sunshine though feeling hidden by a cloud...and cry. Cry for those that mourn.

Sometimes I've thought I was a little 'too gifted' with a gift of empathy. When you feel someone else's pain so deep you get lost in a world of the grief yourself. A good friend of mine said this week that it IS a gift and to empathize is to BE the hands and feet of Jesus. He comforted those that mourned. He wept with those that wept. He always gave hope. Real Hope. A sure, concrete hope of something better, something brighter, something eternal.

Monday night we, for the children's sake (I was curious...) did a video of opening the envelope with the gender. I, up until that day, was SURE our baby was a girl. At the ultrasound (which was ultra clear, very high tech) I had ask the technician to tell me to look away when she was looking for the gender. She said "ok ... look away... (2 second pause) ok, got it". I said "what?" she said 'we're good'. I said "are you sure?" she said "positive". That was it. I knew it was a boy. :) I was truly 100% shocked when Dean opened the envelope to announce our baby is a sweet little girl. We are so excited and feel so blessed (and yes would have been same if it was a boy).
Tuesday morning I got a call from my OB office saying that there was a concern on my ultrasound..."a soft marker called Echogenic Bowel" which can be nothing, can be something, can be serious. It's worth looking into. The doctor suggested Amnio which I said we would not consider due to the risk (though minimal, it's present) to the baby. They offered other options and one we chose for now is to see Dr. Halverson (same maternal / fetal specialist we saw when expecting Azlan) who will do a more in depth ultrasound to see if it still remains, if there are other 'soft markers' etc. It can be a marker for Downs Syndrome among other things. Basically it's when the bowel shows up bright white like a bone does on ultrasound instead of transparent. The beauty in knowing your baby was a complete miracle right from my Dad's hand...is that this news comes with no fear. This is our miracle baby. Not only a precious gift after 2 miscarriages (babies we will one day see in Heaven)...but a precious gift that God told me we would have. First time in 10 years, no fertility medication...and pregnancy. This is our promised child and whatever He chooses...we trust Him at the core of knowing...He. Is. Good. Always. Good.

Tonight at Bible Study my "getting to know you question" was "who is your favorite extended family member and why?". To show you how fragile my emotions were (due to Bethany's death)...I got out a few words before the tears came. "My grampa Procopio. He just was my favorite" and I started to cry.

Saturday morning we plan on heading to Arlington to 'mourn with those that mourn' and show our love and support for Duncan and the rest of the family. Please pray for all the lonely days ahead for Duncan.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

The good... the bad...and...the...ok....the good.

It's been a while since I've written a good update. Or...an update at all ;)

Things have been going pretty well. Lots of new ideas to help with all the adjustment issues.

First of all we've decided Duka's bed IS on the floor. He has to kind of earn his way to a bed. He has not peed on the floor, only the bed. So he has now made progress to get a soft blanket underneath him and we will work him up to a comfy bed on the floor THEN transition to the bed. He pees in the bed wayyyy too often and so far we are on night 7 I think on the floor, and no pee.

We are working on removing the obvious favoritism to Zano in the family. He's funny (silly) and that's apparently attractive in this family :) However, favoritism is not. So that's been interesting.

We've been working on simple obedience (for 6 months)...and seeming to get somewhere there too. Zano, not dumb .. but extremely lazy. Very very very very lazy. Yes, can be a source of serious frustration on both Mama and Daddy. So he was asked to put the books away. You can only imagine. No. So we stopped and took the time to teach him how to do it properly. After at least 30 minutes he finally did it properly. That was 2 days ago...today laziness conquered and no way was he going to do it properly. All battles we start...we commit to winning. He learned it's better to just obey.

Last night was an extremely busy day, as are most. It was a full day of cooking cleaning then at 4pm I was going to shower all the kids. As I tell Zano to take his clothes off it was rather obvious...they were soaked. He quickly shoved them all in the hamper. I said "why are they wet" and in only a way Chazano could do it...he looked up in a gaze and a blank stare and said super slowly "because...i ... peeeeeed in them". Seriously? when? Who knows. So there he sat all day in disgustingly peed in pants. So I told him to go wait for mommy to be disciplined. I went downstairs and as I came up .. I looked in the master bathroom and he's standing, by an open toilet, butt naked....Peeing. On the wall. On the floor. Just standing there. Seriously. I said quickly "sit on that potty!!" He looks at me super slow motion and says "what....?" Ok ow he got grabbed (me getting soaked) and plopped on the potty. Un. Real. That's what we mean by lazy. It's a better word than others that come to mind. He doesn't think well he just does the minimums to get by and apparently he thought turning around and peeing into the potty was not necessary. Now, picture this. I'm dressed up for our company to coming over at 5pm, literally sloshing through pee on the floor. Ready to scream. He wasn't allowed the fun bath he had to shower. I needed another shower after that!! AHHHHHHHH.

Then there's been the Duka just plain being grouchy. 99.9% of the time the child has a furrowed brow and a frown on his face. His grouchiness of course affects many areas...like he doesn't attract anyone except Azlan. So Azlan gets the brunt of the attitude. AHHHHHH.

Ok. There you have it. Their schooling at this point is pretty minimal because they need so many basics. To those of you who wish our kids were in a school setting (for whatever reason) let me be the first to tell you they would NOT make it in Kindergarten!! They are miles and miles behind.

Tirzah and Zion are doing great in school and loving it, so we are easing the twins in at a few days a week.

Azahria Peace is our baby and yet...at her age, Tirzah was the oldest of THREE! :) Funny to think of that.

I'm 18wks and still sick but still loving it. Sickness is easing a bit which messes with my brain b /c I go off my meds and then, like this morning, puke like crazy. So it's unpredictable. My big ultrasound is on the 25th and I cannot wait!

There you go. There's the update for today. With many a look up to Heaven begging for answers....yet the truth remains, Though the world sees and soon forgets, We will not forget who You are and what You've done for us... This is His. The overwhelming peace that comes from that ... is... well....overwhelming. I may not have known what I was doing but He sure did. And He asked us to do it,, and we did. So there are no regrets.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brokenness.

Today I (again..) realized how in every situation...I have a choice. And today....I chose brokenness. It actually can be a good thing. It was prime opportunity for anger, even bitterness. But instead I just sat almost numb before God. Ok. What do you want me to do? Is there something I'm missing? Crying out to my Dad...I'm broken. I'm bare. I'm yours. Shine from me. If it's possible in this situation...shine from me.

It was actually a beautiful place to be.

And to my Dad...it was better than a Hallelujah.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More firsts. Lots of repeated lessons.

It's been a busy week. Nevermind. I take that back. Our LIFE is busy. Seriously busy. Sometimes I think...we have a lot on our plates and it really doesn't slow us down. Life is pretty structured around here and honestly I'm not sure we'd get much done if it wasn't!

School..has been going. Tirzah and Zion are loving it and learning lots. Tirzah is totally hungry to learn and it's fun to teach her. Zion takes a bit more time but still loves when word blends click and he realizes he can read a word, it's so cute. Duka and Zano are sticking with the basics. Zano is moving ahead in the preschool program, Duka, not really. Duka's biggest struggle is obedience. So we are starting there. He has this super strong quiet inner streak of "my way is best. always". So he often spends most of the morning with colored blocks learning how to obey very simply instructions like "put in piles of colors" or "separate circles and triangles" etc. Honestly if it takes a few months to learn the basic life lesson of listening and following instruction, then no time lost.

Azlan, interestingly enough, is the one that plays most with the twins. He's found his spot. Duka needs to be monitored carefully b/c Azlan wants to be with him so bad he'll endure anything and Duka can be mean to him. We have seen Azlan a few times crying by himself (which is interesting seeing he comes off as thick skinned) and when you ask what's going on, his feelings were hurt by someone making fun of him etc. So they are learning what is and isn't ok. I think Duka's in a hard spot b/c Chazano is clearly the funny outgoing one (and the one Tirzah and Zion play most with) and it's like Duka is trying to find his place...so as we often see in kids, he's doing it by putting someone else down. Learning as we go.

We have also had some GREAT moments lately too. Moments of kindness caught if even at a glimpse. Azahria fell down and we saw Duka RUN to help her. That's followed with lots of cheers for being an awesome helper.

Good news is Duka now sleeps in underwear and is dry 9 nights out of 10. He has no water past dinner (and what he gets at dinner is pretty little) but he's learned he needs to have a lot less so he can be dry.

We all went to the park last night on bikes (well Mama pushed Azahria Peace in the stroller) and once we got there we took training wheels off two of the bikes. Starting with Tirzah...she struggled but then I got her going on the concrete and then let her ride onto the grass well one of the times she kept going onto another piece of concrete...that was it...she was on her way!! She rode around for a few minutes by herself. It was so cute to see all the others cheering her on :)

Then Zion. Mr. Ambition himself. Tells Daddy "let go of me" and away he went. Hardly a struggle at all he did great! We tried a bit with Zano and Duka~I think they need more time as they JUST got on a bike for the first time every a few months ago. But still it was an exciting night.

Azlan's sedated ABR is for Monday ... mind as well ... this weeks is crazy full and packed. Actually, this month is. And we have some pretty big goals this month for our business so we'll roll with it.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Always Good. Always.

Today was heavenly. Were there any miracles...? Not really. Were the kids suddenly ready to go and transformed....? no. What changed...?

Last night I ran to my Father. Funny how many times I have to learn this lesson. As soon as life gets too much...I hide. Not much different than Adam, am I? Last night I ran to Him. And my heart was filled. It's as if I can hear Him whisper..."Janice...I've been waiting. I've got a plan. I've had a plan. I've not changed my mind. Glad you came back". Maybe you have to be where I am for that to warm the coldest areas of your heart, but it sure does mine.

"Honest cries...of breaking hearts....
better than a hallelujah sometimes..."
Amy Grant.

Oh. It so is.

Praising Him when things are great...is great. But how genuine is it? Is your love really tested when you are infatuated...? Any of us married longer than 10 days will tell you ...'no'...

Dean and I watched Extreme Home Makeover Sunday night. I have not seen it in a LONG time. I don't think it was accident that we saw this one. We both cried at least 6 times. It was amazing. A family...the dad an avid football player and coach. The mom an amazing loving woman. Married her highschool sweetheart. Their daughter, lover of horses. Their son, paralyzed from the waist down. The dad...now diagnosed with ALS. Devastating. The football team he coaches are a bunch of boys from broken homes and no dads. They all look to him as dad. It was amazing. Not very often you see the good side of humanity. We would be shocked if they are not people who love Jesus. Still coaching with slurred speech and major limp...the town pulled together and built them a dream home fully wheelchair accessible and paid off all their medical debt. We just sobbed. More than that was the strong tie of the family. This was it. Let me tell you something. There was sincere, genuine love in that family. Things good...? um no. She said people often hug her and say sorry for the huge burden she has to carry and she looked at the camera crying and said "they just don't get it. What a privilege for me to walk this journey with this man!". See that much ? Not really. That's love.

Love is proven and tested in trauma. It just is.

Go to prayfordaisy.com and read a picture perfect family's story of their 6 year old daughter's second battle with cancer. Read how they all say, beyond the shadow of a doubt, how THIS journey ... they wouldn't trade it for anything...because they only THOUGHT they knew Jesus before...now they really know Him.

Last night. I broke.

Today..what a contrast.

School went amazing. Oh the kids didn't 'get' it anymore today.

If you have followed this blog....if you have seen my life...if you've ever examined your own life...you know that the one thing that changes every thing...every horrible circumstance...is you. Your heart. Dry. Tumbleweed. Or a child in front of the fountain lapping every drop. That's the difference.


Today I was quenched.

Ahhhhhh.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Insert scream here.

... and yet in the middle of craziness (seemingly) there is peace. Such a sweet friend of mine chatted with me today and asked if I'm really truly asking God for help here. I'm not. So now I am. There you have it. And she is true enough of a friend to hold me to it.

School. Schmool. The preschool program the twins are in is about age 4 level. Seriously. It's wayyyyyyyy too young for Zion. Zion is bored out of his mind so I'm switching him to Tirzah's program. But the twins...I came downstairs this morning and said "this. Is. Not. Working.". Insert scream here.

They simply do not listen. They have life going on in their own little heads and they look at you (past you) and smile but are not really there. The story had pictures to follow along with. Vivid, colorful pictures. Doesn't matter because they simply are not 'there'. So the reading the story 2, 3 times actually helps nothing when the child is not listening. It's extremely difficult, on the calmest of days, not to get really frustrated.

We are seeing some reactive attachment issues with Duka. Peeing again in his bed after 7 days of perfectly dry nights...now pee under his pillow....?? There's real, manipulative, on purpose things going on.

Insert scream here.

It's not lovable. It's not cute. It's not natural to feel all warm and fuzzy here. And I don't.

Insert scream here.

But my sweet sweet friend who has a child...with attachment issues...is such a help. I never know if it's good or bad that she can pretty much complete my sentence. I hate labels. I hate terms. We will get through this. We will prevail. I will surrender. I will love. And...while I'm at it, I'll stop screaming.

Having Daddy home more has been a big bonus b/c Daddy is no longer the 'tickle monster' but an authority figure that you have to obey just like Mama.

Eating is becoming a complete test of all patience. Duka has never ever ate slower and sometimes completely refuses to swallow. I do believe his stomach is adjusting to his true appetite instead of eating out of 'what if this is my last meal', he will say "I'm full". It's refreshing to see that! The child is so tiny that he can't possibly need that much food!

While on the phone with my friend today I was watching out the window as Duka and Zano start taking Azlan's clothes off. ....? I watched. Azlan did exactly what they said. It's almost a bit chilling to see how the 2 can gang up on 1 and Azlan, as strong as he is, just listens. I waited. They took his favorite coat off. Then his shirt. Then Azlan's lip started to quiver. I called Zano and Duka to me. They stare. Blankly. Mama: "what are you doing?" Zano: stareeeee. Blank. Duka: stare...."ummmmmmmm". Ok. Mama:"why are you taking his clothes off?" Duka:"ummmmmm" Zano: stareeee. "ummmmm". This can go on for an hour.
Enter my life.
Insert scream here.
I ask Azlan. He says "they just said stay still, we are taking your clothes off!". Then his lip kept quivering.

Insert scream here.

God I need you. I can't do this on my own. The kids have definite baggage. Not necessarily of abuse. Of neglect. Of never having to submit to an authority. Of just surviving the best way you know how.

Seriously today my head simply hurt. I tried to think back to Africa and remember how I was so confused about "Though the world sees and soon forgets...we will not forget who You are and what You've done for us..." and I think I'm getting it. Father, please. Help. I cannot do this on my own. I have seen what You have done. I know what You can do. Please don't leave me now.

There's days of confusion and just questions. Why? This was Your choice, not ours. I have never believed in sacrificing our 4 children to save more. Please help us. And give me Your heart. I need a love so much deeper than mine.

"This is where the healing begins...
ooohhohhhh.
This is where the healing starts!
When you come to where you're broken within...
the light meets the dark....."

Tenth Avenue North. All of their songs just grab me at the core. They get it. They get me.

Take all my screams of frustration and confusion and 'where do we go from here's and please insert peace. Insert peace here. What a contrast.

The same gift I was ultimately given in Africa...the gift...of one day at a time...seems elusive now. All I see is 'forever'. And it feels impossible. Please give me the gift of one day at a time.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 2 of school and life.

School is IN session :) I had to be 100% organized first which I must admit is TOTALLY working for me ;)

4 new desks, 4 new chairs (red, orange, red, orange) and 4 kids ready to go every morning and we are on our way! The ciricc we are using is very much for each child at their own speed which is just plain a necessity in this family. Tirzah has already accomplished 1 week's worth of work in 2 days. Chazano and Zunduka...we are at the basics of basics. You know what...we already know the struggle. It's listening. They LOOK like they are listening...but they are not. AHHHHHHH! New concept. Right?

So after reading the most gigantic story ever...TWICE (because apparantly NO ONE listened to round 1...) Zano and Duka couldn't even tell me the featured animal in the story. The answers were "Jesus?" "God?" "dog?" Ok. scratch that.

So I made a quick decision that the best way for them to learn the lesson was ... to have them sit at their desks with their hands folded while Tirzah and Zion got to color the pictures and do the activities related to the story. The next time I read a paragraph they knew it word for word. I wonder how many times we'll have to learn this lesson...? :)

Last night we had a little party for Azlan. It was so sweet. In fact, he asked to pray for his meal. When 'amen' finally rolled around Dean was laughing at me because I was wiping the tears off my face. Yah. My preciousness. And here he is, 4 years later, praying for the food. Love Love Love him.

So tomorrow is back at school again. I have to say it's quite fun. I get to sit there with my coffee and schedule and it's quiet and organized (how very me...the quiet part anyway...I know...never would guess that would be a love of a girl that chose to have 7 kids!) and Azlan and Azahria seem to have fun out in the playroom while school is in session. Come lunch time it's all fun and games for the rest of the day as Azahria sleeps it away :)

Tomorrow I have a 'genetics appt' at my OB office. I'm not exactly sure what it's for but I think it's to do with Azlan having a cleft. The big ultrasound is October 25th and as of right now...the gender will remain a surprise til mid March. Do I sound like I'm jumping up and down excited about this ... ? :) AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Can you train a brain that cannot stand surprises in any way...to love this one? Ok. It's ok. I'll be ok. And I have gotten to find out for all 4 so far. :)



Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ahhhhhhhh.

There are few words to describe what I saw this morning.

We have said good-bye twice...way before we were ready...two little babies that you would never know were to be #7 by the amount of excitement in this house!

Losing our baby in Africa~seriously felt like it was going to kill me. How can you do that...alone? How can you do that...with no shoulder to cry on? How can you do that...in Africa? How can you do that...the same day you adopt twins? How...can you survive...that? It was one of the most beautiful times in my life. Because Jesus became almost tangible. I felt His presence. He was real. He caught every tear. He held every shaking sob in His hand. I knew He cared. He knew it was a time of decision for me...would I turn it into distrust? Would I turn it into anger? Would I feel betrayed? I had laid out the fleece before I got on that plane. If the heartrate was over 120bpm I would take it as a clear sign from Him that this baby was going to survive. The heartrate was struggling at 110 a day earlier. I nearly popped off the bed with news of 132bpm. I knew it was the answer.

I flew 26 hours to Africa, solo. I arrived and my first night there...I said goodbye to a baby of Hope. In an emotionless night of laying frozen, talking to my God that suddenly felt far away. Asking questions that felt empty and confused. I constantly came back to the fact that I simply never leave His hand. He is good. Always. No matter how deep the pain...He is always good.

Something happened a few months later that left me completely in tears. 7 pregnancies in 10 years...all on medication. I had medication lined up for the following month of July. It was June. I was reading and praying one night and I stopped as I heard "this month, no medication". It vividly brought me back to an ultrasound at 19 weeks in my pregnancy with a little boy named Azlan Honor. I sat on the table and heard a voice "your baby has a cleft"...after questioning the tech and being asked several times if I felt OK...I laid back wondering if God just gave me a warning. Not 15 minutes later I was told by my doctor that our baby had a cleft. That was a huge faith building moment that would carry me through many days to come. God didn't only know, he planned and he was kind enough to let me know...He knew. He cared. About me.

Here I am, 4 years later....sitting on the side of my bathtub (I know...I have this odd trend of reading and praying in the bathroom..however..it's a very quiet place in our house:) and I hear "this month, no medication". You would think...I'd be excited. Natural response,right? It wasn't. I immediately said "no. No. I'm doing meds next month". Why? I felt like I could 'trust' medicine. I didn't want a big faith ride. Not now. I've done that quite a bit lately...I'm going to go by the seen this time. I started crying. I knew I had a decision to make. Would I surrender and trust God? I opened up my bible to my reading and the verse jumped out off the page "I cried out to the Lord my God, and He healed me" I remember closing my Bible quickly jumping up and saying "I'm just not ready for this". What if I DID trust ... and it was all in my head? What if it weakened my faith instead of strengthened it? Why not just use the medication next month? I got in bed and tossed and turned for a long time. I cried. Finally I got up and said "Ok God...I'll trust you. No meds". A few days later I decided to tell two friends in confidence so that they knew ahead of time. If it happened, I knew it would strengthen their faith.

Fast forward to finding out #7 is on the way. No meds. I have never been in so much shock in my life. Seriously I shook. Then I called the 2 friends I had told. They couldn't believe it.

We decided to keep it quiet this time but there was a quiet peace inside me that this baby...was here to stay.

Today, at 13 weeks we got to see our precious little baby on Ultrasound. He/She moved, kicked and flipped for 30 minutes while I watched.The doctor took a look at his/her brain, heart, spine and even took a very premature check at the lip to see if we could see evidence of a cleft (it's too early) but I walked out again with a quiet peace of a promised baby.

One of our favorite songs came to mind...a few months ago I'm not sure I did believe.

Do you wonder why you have to,
feel the things that hurt you,
if there's a God who loves you,
where is He now?

Maybe, there are things you can't see
and all those things are happening
to bring a better ending
some day, some how, you'll see, you'll see

Chorus:
Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning

My friend, you know how this all ends
and you know where you're going,
you just don't know how you get there
so just say a prayer.
and hold on, cause there's good who love God,
life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time,
but you'll see the bigger picture

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the dark before the morning
yeah, yeah,
before the morning,
yeah, yeah

Once you feel the way of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
once you feel the way of glory,
all your pain will fade to memory
memory, memory, yeah

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

com'n, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling,
it's just the hurt before the healing
the pain you've been feeling,
just the dark before the morning
before the morning, yeah, yeah
before the morning

Christian lyrics - BEFORE THE MORNING LYRICS - JOSH WILSON

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lead Me.

Life keeps chugging along. With all it's 'firsts' and 'lessons' and 'routines' and as the days keep passing by it hits us little by little...they are growing up. All of them.

We are amazed in the progress of Zano. Came home as slow as a turtle, no one and nothing could make that boy move faster...ate at his own pace, moved at his own pace...despite "thats just the way he is..." we took the challenge head on and found out...not so...it was instead a bit of manipulation and control. We found a leverage pretty quickly and he moved on to a faster pace.
From blank stares and trances and checking out when he didn't feel like handling it anymore to literally that being part of the distant past. From attitude and grouchiness like no other to being a very contented happy-go-lucky child. From fake wails and laments over very little to learning when and how (seems silly..but yes...how...) to cry. We now cry over pain and hurt feeling and sadness. From peeing on the floor daily and Mama being a necessity when any thing more than pee was done...to being very self sufficient in the bathroom. From yelling "PEE" or "POO" and unheard of decibels ... regardless of the folk that made up the within-ear-shot-audience...to telling me quietly "I have to go potty". We've come a long way mr. Chazano bazano. (our challenge today is learning how to stop sucking on his tongue...yes his tongue...little tougher than stopping the thumb sucking ... said from experience...)

We've seen a quiet, submissive, fearful, do-whatever-you-say at whatever-the-cost Zunduka come out of his shell and kind of not knowing his way around outside of it. To finding out there ARE indeed consequences for actions and disobedience truly hurts. From learning he is in complete control over the night time bed wetting and as soon as we said that wasn't ok...serious progress was made. To then seeing how getting up and taking the diaper off so he would be rewarded for dry-diaper but being too lazy to go potty...and sitting in bed and peeing...would not make you further ahead but indeed...in a worse perdicament. We've learned that lying is the ultimate offense and the punishment is always double when a lie was in there. Learning that even though this American way is so different and worthy of staring at...we can't necessarily do that. It's been a big learning curve for mr. Zunduka but the good news is he clearly feels safe to come out of the shell and we are here to guide his way and show him the straight and narrow path to follow.

Ahhhh it's been a journey. And the ultimate journey is the journey of the heart for a certain Mama of 6. I wish this blog could still be public b/c we truly want the world to know that adoption isn't a good idea...it's not for 'some people'...it's not "nice and super humanitarian of some to do'...it's not just for the 'called'....it's a command.It's the ultimate true...pure...undefiled religion. To care for the widows and fatherless. It is near...super near...to the heart of God. He knows all the pains of adoption....because He adopted me. It's not a natural love...it's a chosen love. I love you...because I do. Because I have chosen you. I don't need you I want you. I love you.

If you have read this blog and thought "wow so glad Africa is behind them and they can start their picture perfect life together at home...all complete" than you are no different than I. But boy was I wrong.

You have no idea how many times ... in my frustration...in my anger...in my desperation...I have come before God...and in all my pleading and questioning...there was a soft still voice. Started in a low voice...slowly...softly...almost chilling ... it's familiar...it's really familiar...Janice...though the world sees and soon forgets...we will not forget who You are and what You've done for us.....what You've done for us...."

Africa....was only the beginning.

Like Labor...is only the beginning. Of a lifetime of ups and downs and learning and training and disciplining and pain and love and joy and ..... Labor...is only the beginnning... Africa...was only the beginning.

Adoption has been... like being an eye witness to my own open heart surgery. Sitting back and watching the surgeon slice me open and take my heart out...and then before my very eyes...start cutting it. Opening it up. And showing me all the ugliness within. Here I am...seeing it...myself. That is what adoption has been for me. Exposed me to the deepest layer. I don't have an anger problem. Oh yes you do, Janice. I don't have a problem emotionally connecting. Oh yes you do, Janice. I don't have a problem loving and giving and loving and giving when I get nothing in return. Oh yes you do, Janice.

I heard recently that the problem with being a 'living sacrifice' as we are told to offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice in the Bible...is that we are alive...so we daily hop off the alter and walk away. How true. Today I totally surrender and tomorrow I'm in the same predicament ... huh? How did that happen?

So ... it is. A daily surrender. And the days I fight my own way...end up much worse. Daily surrender. I'm not super woman. Super mom. Super wife. I'm human. I simply took to heart that God said...we are to care for the orphans and as soon as we did...it was unreal how God opened doors and showed the way. There is ZERO...Z.E.R.O doubt in my mind...absolutely zero...it never wavers...that this was 100% God's will for us. Zero. That...has been a solid foundation in all the ups and downs of the 'aftermath'.

So why would we want people to know that? So you know it's not all easy. It's NOT a bed of roses. It's not just amazing day in and day out. It's work. It's work to love and give and do it again and again without the natural bond of a biological child. Since we know that bond...the contrast is great. Would we do it again? In. A. Heartbeat. Do we believe we will have that bond? Absolutely. I truly believe you do the action and the feelings come much later. We would want you to know we are no different than you. We have thought all the same thoughts "I could never love another child as my own..." "If I couldn't have children...then...I would..." "If I was loaded and had nothing more to fill my time with..." "if....."
You know several people weren't impressed that in the middle of raising a large family...close together...we would adopt twins. Oh...our idea was when our children were grown. When it was convenient for us. When WE were ready. When ... when.... see.... it wasn't about us. I think one of the keys to living a life of tremendous meaning is when you realize... it is simply not. about. you. It's not about you. Um....yah...we work 2 full time business...have 4 kids...want more....now is NOT the time for us to adopt. It's interesting God doesn't say "when you have tons of extra resources, and time and energy...and ... and .... then....care for the orphans." No. That's simply not there. We knew it would take sacrifice. And energy. And effort. And...honestly..it would take a lot more than it would give. That's the point. Our reward is in Heaven.

We are often stopped by christians...and told "good for you! I could never do that ... but GOOD FOR YOU!" ..... ? We need to think a lot about that. We are no different than you.

The title of the blog. My new fave song by Santus Reale. Youtube search it and sit and listen. And listen again. I don't think there is one family that this won't speak to. It breaks me no matter what state my heart is in....the first verse is husband and wife...the second...is father (mother) and children. The third...a cry for help to be able to do it...this is my cry to my Dad. Lead me.

Sanctus Real - “Lead Me”

I look around and see my wonderful life
Almost perfect from the outside
In picture frames I see my beautiful wife
Always smiling
But on the inside, I can hear her saying...

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, what about us?

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes
They're just children from the outside
I'm working hard, I tell myself they'll be fine
They're in independent
But on the inside, I can hear them saying...

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I'm called to be
Oh, Father, show me the way
To lead them
Won't You lead me?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

haha. In response to Miss Janna :)

Ok so yes Monday was good. ;)

Pool. Nope it's now wonderful :) A friend of ours asked if we had 'shocked the pool' and we were like 'huH??" so when we did it was miraculously clear!!

Azlan's speech went well and perhaps the best part was she told us someone who is very qualified at a public school in our area so he (I'm told) may be able to switch to her for the fall!!

The neighbor thing, I'm hopeful they are thinking...yet everytime I think that they surprise me by a day of 20 minute apart door bell rings. I'm learning too. The other day I said "Not today but check back in a few days" :)

Everything else is going pretty good. I finally set up the other set of bunkbeds (STUPID BUNKBEDS!!) hahaha. so each boy actually has their own bed!! Then what do you know...Zunduka pees in the bed for the first time in weeks. Way to start the morning with a smile! UGH.

Right now they are all playing outside with 7 little puppies...speaking of which I need to take pics.

It's Dean's bday today. They have the cake picked out and all his gifts. HAHA it's quite funny. Especially when Dean is pretty NON CAKE. :)


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happy Thursday. No really!

We woke up to the absence of Daddy again. Pretty common these days and actually a good sign b/c if he got out at 6am it means he should be home in decent time. I've often been asked how the mornings go and if the kids wake us at all hours...so here's the answer. Nope. :) They know they are allowed to get up quietly at go sit down in the playroom and turn the tv on (which is set to Curious George or something). If they talk out loud or play with toys ... they have to go back to bed. So honestly they are probably up for an hour before me! But all 6 of them sit there quietly until it's really 'morning' LOL :) Mama's morning :)

Then everyone has to get dressed (yes...Papa's fault!) can't deal with kids in jammies in the morning...:) And we head down for breakfast. I'm not a breakfast person and it's not my fave meal of the day to serve ... ;)

Last night I stayed up late and scrubbed downstairs from top to bottom. Ahh ok maybe that's part of the secret to my morning :) Shiny floors, clear windows. mmmmm.

I'm treating the now "STUPID" pool. Yes funny how something can change from fab to stupid real quick. RRRRRR. It's perfectly balanced...yet as cloudy as milk. So after googling it seems I found the answer...a trek around town and 50lb bag of the solution later....we're hoping for good results!!

This morning Azlan's volunteer speech therapist is coming. I just really want to see if she has any tips we could try for the drooling and for some of the speech 'isms that he has. She's not long term as she is going back to school.

I do have a vent. I'm not sure anymore what the correct answer is but my frustration is growing :( Our neighbors...christians...have 2 bio kids. Age 6 and 3. They are adopting a 14 mth old from the foster system. He's got some baggage issues and it's very sad. So....I have 6 kids...I must be totally cool with having another right? Not necessarily untrue :) He (6yr old) knocks on my door...all day. Every 30 minutes to every hour. "Can I come play?" the worse part is mama is standing nearby watching. So I'm feeling like its my responsibility or something.. Ok. It's not. We try to be kind and let him play ever so often but daily. All through the day. I feel like I'm going a bit crazy. Also Chazano still has the tendacy to play solo so we are always trying to get him playing with the others. When the friend comes over...the twins go solo. A while ago I had to have an awkward convo with the mom and after explaining everything she looks at me and says "so what day can he come play?" completely missing everything I just said. So for now I guess I'll keep saying "not right now" when it's inconvenient.

Oh and I'm in a major countdown to Monday. I'm not telling you why but the days can speed up anytime!

Happy Thursday!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fun weekend!

We had a great weekend...and it was productive! On Saturday we worked hard and Dean put 3 yards of rock in and completed the landscaping in the front (for now). It needs trees but at least we are not the neighborhood eye sore anymore :) We also went swimming...lots and had lots of fun in the sun.

Today we got to meet some people that have prayed for us and C and Z for many months. That was pretty neat. Pastor Dave Bectel had some emotion in his eyes coming to meet the boys for sure. Zambia has a soft spot in his heart as it is, he's been there many times.

Today at our sunday school picnic we had some pretty big lessons learned....not so fun for some :) Our babysitter, Breanna took Zunduka and Tirzah to get balloons made....well..they were gone for hours. Seriously..the line was that long. So meanwhile Zion, Azlan and Chazano got to go to the river with Uncle Russ (that's a real treat!) and eat more dessert etc. So as we were leaving we see poor Breanna, Tirzah and Duka still in line. I couldn't believe it!! Of course, the other kids jump in line with them. However when it came time to get some balloons done we said the other kids could get a tiny fish made as it wasn't fair to all the kids in line that they come in and get a full hat made. Oh...we saw all different displays of attitude. Zion had immediate tears. No cry came ... b/c he knew the consequence of that. Chazano...absolutely refused to touch the fish. Azlan had instant tears, again no sob or fit.

So we talked to all of them and explained how all while they were playing ... Breanna, Tirzah and Duka were standing in line for HOURS. They get the full hats...but not the other 4. Chazano still would not look at me ... nor the fish. Zion and Azlan were told they had a matter of seconds to made a decision to be thankful (we talk a lot about thankfulness)...and turn their faces happy. Chazano ... he needed a bit more work. I bent down and told him again the whole story. He stared. I told him to open his hand and hold the fish and then to look nicely in Mama's eyes and say thank you. It took a second order. He did. But he was holding the fish as this dirty rag...so again...he was told the consequences of a bad attitude and for being unthankful and we told him he had to change this and fast. Yes Zunduka got the coolest hat ever...but he didn't get the food and the fun at the river. He finally made a choice and that was it.

Important lesson learned.

:)

We took all the puppies out the grass and oh my goodness...CUTE!!! They walk on all 4's now and some are wobbly but still super cute!! The one male puppy is the only SOLID black one. All others have a white chest...one has 4 white paws and a white nose! I think she's cute! It's Zion's fave. Then there's Tirzah's "little Piper". :) beautiful puppy looks just like piper did. No curl. Brown and blond. Super cute! They are getting louddeerrrrr and we are going to be having lots of fun here soon :)

Oh want to know something pathetic?? Here it is. I have a very black thumb. I mean, I already knew that. I kill 2-3 live christmas trees each year. Pathetic. But this tops all. We planted this massive beautiful garden. EVERYTHING IS DEAD. All our neighbors and bringing fresh veggies out daily ... not us. Withered dried up plants. I think our garden is in way too direct sunlight. I've been watering daily and I'm done. Fine. I'll do better next year. Yes. Go ahead laugh. What's wrong with me anyway? See I'd rather just buy it at the market! Ok so it was kinda fun and the kids were loving seeing their seeds grow. Sad.

Again please visit http://prayfordaisy.com and pray for this little girl and this family. What if this was my child? This family is feeling this is all a bad dream too...it always happens to someone else right? Someone else's child...? Not this time. Please pray for them in every way.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Loving Summer!!

So yesterday we went and hung out with Dean at the family's pool I mentioned. Gorgeous new pool. BEYOND FRIGID!!! No way...most of us were in for quite a bit...not Chazano and Zunduka. Very little body fat :) They just laid on the concrete. When we got home they were so excited for our "warm pool"!!

This morning we started out the day after breakfast at the children's museum. They love it. It's super cute like an ultimate play place. The favorite is the pizza train car. I got served a menu (with Azahria Peace) and had our fill of plastic pizza :) We stayed there for 2.5 hours then went home for lunch...the usual...out on the grass. Then put Azahria to bed and we all went swimming. For hours! Had a ton of fun...Azlan has been pretty cute. He is quite attached to me. He would swim around just holding my feet as I laid on my float. He said "I want to sing you a song" I was like "awesome, let's hear it!" so he starts...."you ... are my best friend...." :) I said "ME??" he said "yes." I said "why me, Azlan?" smiling he looks at me and shrugs "because I like you mama!" :)

Zunduka still has to get out of the pool several times and heat up on the grass...he just chatters away. It's kinda funny b/c the water is not even remotely chilly but he's just plain skinny!

Tonight Dean went and bought seasoned carne asada at the hispanic meat store and it's our favorite!! The kids LOVE it! Then we all got in the suburban and went down to the river for a walk. It was all shade and gorgeous. Tons and TONS of boats out tonight and lots of water skiing. Azlan was flagging down the boats b/c welll...he wanted a ride! haha.

On the way home I turned on their song "Sheltering Trees"...full blast...cutest thing ever to hear all 6 belting out (guessing many words) just b/c they are all so proud it's THEIR song :)

Bedtime is getting quicker and quicker :) This is a GOOD thing. They all go to bed with zero problems it's just...that...there's 6. Very young kids. So...they line up and Daddy does all the teeth brushing...I put their clothes away and tuck them in. Not a sound after that. And days with hours in the pool I don't know if they even remember seeing their pillow at night they are so tired.

Tomorrow a lady we knew a few years ago is coming by in the morning to visit. She has been going through Chemo for colon cancer and really wants to see the kids. Guess I'll stay up late and do a full thorough (sorta ) down stairs scrub. ugh. :)

Good night.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You need a re-focus...?

Here it is. Check out this site. Heartwrenching very real journey of a pastor's little girl, Daisy...6 years old that after 7 months of chemo...the cancer is back and inoperable. http://PrayForDaisy.com check it out...along with the video down the page to see her journey. If that would bring you to your knees and make everything in your life suddenly right...what would?

Our pictures.






Updates.

Summer has finally fully arrived in TriCities and we are having so much fun. Seriously the best $199 we spent all year seems to be on one of those Intex pools from Walmart!! Its 16' diameter and 3'ish feet deep and we spend hours in there. The kids all have rings or floats and we just hang out most of the day! The twins can dive under water and really...just entertain the rest of the kids that are so amazed they can really swim! It's been HUGE for getting Tirzah and Zion comfy in the water. Tirzah now plugs her nose and sits on the bottom of the pool. Umm...she's the child that if water splashes in her face she panics. Zion now puts his head under water and swims along in his armies. He brings his head up and does these cute labored breaths so he won't panic. I'm not sure who taught him that but it's cute :)

Over the weekend we finally had family pictures done. It was pretty fun actually! We had them done at 7:30am Sunday morning. Yes that's crazy especially when that's when our kids normally wake up...however it's soooooo hot here all day especially in the evening so the only option was mornings. A friend of ours is starting her new photography business and in building her portfolio (we thought a family of 8 would do that ;)...she only is charging $90 for session fee and full CD of all the portraits. We can't get pics at Sears for that!! We only had exactly one hour before we had to be back home but we got quite a bit done in that hour and the kids had a blast...constantly saying "we are in the jungle!!" it was quite beautiful where we were....and we had no idea the place existed!

We had a few days of cooler weather and are now back to the reliable heat of the TriCities :) It's hot and dry...and since living here neither of us can deal with the humidity when we travel to other places! ugh. Florida last August....ewww. :)

For the first time in my life I've been going to the chiropractor. I'm quite terrified every time I go...I tense up and make it quite difficult for him to do his job. In my 8th month of pregnancy with Azahria I pulled something out of my back while getting into the shower...yes she is over 2 years old and I've barely spoken about it. A)I hate telling people when I have pain. B)I didn't want to go to a chiropractor. Brilliant right? So why am I going now...well b/c I could hardly sit! So I went and he said "have you been in an accident?" Nice. me: "ummm no...." he said my hip is way out and one leg significantly shorter than the other. He adjusts me and I was aligned. Of course it's taken more work than that though. I am getting better and have another appt tomorrow with massage...b/c he said the muscles are so tight he can't adjust me. Fantastic. I'm also doing the back exercises to try to get the muscles stronger. Seriously proud of my brilliancy for letting this going on for 2 years. Not my brightest moment.

Today Dean is fencing the Sheriff's property and they have a new in ground pool with slide etc. They seem quite fascinated by us having 6 kids age 6.5 and under and have been inviting us over. Today they are going out of town for the wknd and so they told Dean to please have his wife and kids come hang out at the pool while they are gone. Ok...so we will :) the kids are super excited! We are headed over there in a bit.

Today we got to see Auntie Jo and 4 gorgeous boys on iChat ! That was awesome. Actually her kids woke my kids up over the iChat ;) Tirzah is ALWAYS asking about cousins and to see a bunch in the same age group was pretty exciting for them.

Zion's birthday was celebrated Sunday evening with some friends at Chuck E Cheese's. That place is this couple's worse nightmare! We hate going there LOL. BUT we were pleasantly surprised that they totally renovated it and made it twice the size!! It was Zion's wish and moreso his wish was to have his friend "VAN" come. A super sweet family with a 12 year old boy (I think) that is named VANCE. Zion is convinced it's VAN and that "VANS" is the plural form haha. It's cute. He is completely Zion's hero and he's a good kid. He is always making paper airplanes for Zion etc. He gave Zion several "hand made by Van" paper airplanes and it didn't seem to matter that Zion got the "camote control truck" he wanted...he got paper airplanes hand made by VAN!!!! :) He even invited Zion for his first sleepover!! My boy is growing up! 5 years old.

We are already starting to think ahead to the twins' bday in August. They have never had their birthday celebrated so we are excited to start a new tradition. We are learning it's more fun and with more memories to do something fun as a family instead of the big traditional party...the cost is always the same. SOooooo...we have a pretty fun idea for C and Z!! We found out you can drive about 2 hours away from here and literally go on a pirate ship!! For a 90 minute sail and dress up as pirates etc!! We think that would be quite the memory for them so that's our plan. We are working on Nana and Papa to join us ... ;)

Daily we hear 7 'starting to bark' puppies in the garage! 6 are going to have curly fur (like papa who is a poodle...long story but let's suffice it to say this was NOT a planned pregnancy!! :)...and 1 seems to be just like Piper!! We are looking forward to selling all 7 much to Tirzah's disappointment. Seriously...6 children is one thing...8 dogs...? That's another thing!! No. Way.!

It's always quite a trip to go to the story with the family. Always while Dean is at work of course. :) It's not really a "trip" b/c it's such a big effort...it's a trip b/c of people's reaction/comments/expressions. Get yourself in a good mood before you go! ahhhh. So 95% of the time I go out the comment is "is this your day care outing?" ahhh. Not so much. ;)

The other day I was in Walmart all 6 kids were in 2's ... they have to pick someone's hand to hold and there are pretty specific rules. No dancing (nothing quite like shopping with 6 dancing kids all around you!!) no touching (that one is big!), No asking for things (it's a sure way to get n.o.t.h.i.n.g). They are not always rewarded with a treat but often. This guy walks towards me and stops and goes...."ummm...God. Bless. YOU!" with a huge smile. He was a sharp looking business man. I smiled almost stunned. Was that a positive comment? :) I assured him that He has. He was still staring as we all walked by.

The routine is going great. The kids now know (thanks Dad...) that when you get up you immediately get jammies off and get clothes on. I always said I would NOT be that mother...that didn't let their kids hang out in jammies all day. Like ... seriously. What's wrong with that (when you are 12 imagining yourself as a parent...) :) Nope. I can't stand it. It gives me a lazy grubby feel and jammies are for bed in this family. It's funny. This morning they were all up and dresses right away and got high fives for it.

The kids heard me listening to a song by NewSong called Sheltering Trees. They had lots of questions about the song...which is referring to friends ... real friends...as sheltering trees. So they all wanted to learn the chorus. Cutest thing ever despite us having a very slim chance of ever having kids that can sing. Nope not even C and Z ... no African's Children's Choir here!! :) But they are all adorable as they try.

I'll try to post some of our pics here ... maybe in the next post!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Gone private

Just wanted to let you know that my blog will now be password protected. I didn't want to do this...but it's ok. :)


Friday, July 9, 2010

Always.

He is with us always. Letting that sink in changes things. We are living in a hurting world. People are more than just people. You meet the face...behind the face is a lifetime of pain, struggles, joys, loss, gain. This feels odd to be posting this...but God just gave it to me...and I've learned to trust Him.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Refound grief.

Tonight I relived losing our baby in Africa. Yes 'in Africa' has a lot to do with it. Amazing amazing place...but so far away from my husband and children...to lose a child. I really thought (and still do) that I completely did grieve ... but tonight I allowed myself to feel it all again. I cried so deep it reminded me of hushing my cries in the bathroom of our hotel in Zambia.

A very sweet friend wrote me a note since I got home that was just in sympathy of our loss. She talked about how sweet our reunion was at the SeaTac airport with the twins and all of us reuniting...and drew the picture of what Heaven will be like reuniting with 3 children we've never met.

Grief is such a hard thing to understand. It comes from deep within and the moment I feel so empty and broken...I also feel so whole. It's strange...yet serene. Searing loss. That's the only words that kept coming to mind tonight. It felt like hope....yet taken away. I still remember my sister (Joanne)'s little quote in her yearbook when she graduated from highschool...."Never deprive someone of hope...it may be all they have". Hope. It's what keeps so many of us going, isn't it? Hope for something better. Hope for a fresh start. Hope of light at the end of the tunnel. "without vision...the people perish"....without hope...

So tonight I go to bed...with a heart ... cried out...but whole. I wish you were here. I wish you were mine to hold. Someday you will be.

...Though the world sees and soon forgets...we will not forget who You are and what You've done for us...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

4th of July

We had a great weekend! We started with a date night which the kids LOVE b/c they LOVE their babysitters (BONUS! :). Saturday afternoon we loaded up and headed to Seattle for the night. The kids all coming marching down the stairs with packed backpacks...it was quite funny to see what was in each one. Zion had my paints and brushes "just in case I needed to paint in the new city" ;) I had a few appointments in Lakewood so Dean brought the kids to a fabulous playground and then the all came and picked me up. We headed to our hotel... which by the time we got there...it was late enough about 9ish that all kids zonked right away.

Sunday morning we met up with our friends and went to church with them. This is the real deal...black church. We loved it! Our friend Charlene was in the choir...no one really needed mics in the place ;) Then we went with them to their fourth of July sunday school picnic. That was fun too. Great playground...some sports...lots of food and lots of people. I told Duka that Mama, Daddy, T, Z, A and AP would likely be the only white people there and I'm pretty sure we were. They were in their zone...yet...funny enough our bio kids noticed it more than they did :)

The kids did races and complete shock of all shocks ... Zion and Azlan won the three legged race for their age group!! Ok Azlan is NOT mr.coordination so I was prepping them that when you fall it's funny..just get up and keep going ( b/c Zion is competitive)...completely shocked that they never fell and were way ahead of everyone else. They've never done it before either. So that was cute. However....Chazano quickly yelled out "Duka kept falling and pulling me down!" said with great attitude. I knew it was going to embarrass Duka...he ran to me and sobbed. And sobbed into my shoulder. I asked how many times they fell he said twice...I said that was so amazing because Mama used to fall like 10 times! Duka just lit up with that...and Zano apologized for not being very nice.

The saddest part of the day is that we ended it with the hopes of making it home for the fireworks which is a massive annual highlight in this family. Like the kids ask about it all June...

well on the way home we did have to quickly run by Ikea (where only Dean ran in) to grab 2 mattresses for the boy's room but we think the biggest thing was we were off on our time of when fireworks started :( We did get to see them alllll the way home over the sky in every town but that's not the same. No joke...Tirzah and Zion were praying in the backseat that we would make it home in time....and we arrived to see literally the smoke of the grand finale. We stopped the car and I got out and Tirzah just sobbed on my shoulder. She is not a crier. :( I cried too. I think Daddy was almost crying. We were feeling horrible. So we came home for ice cream at 10:45pm...yes that is way out of the norm for us. We promised next year we'll all be there with our snacks and blankets and we'll have a great time.

So yesterday was amazing...weather wise. Absolutely gorgeous....which means we really need to work on setting up our pool. Its one of those 16' diameter...3.5 feet deep (something like that)and honestly will be well used. We just have to flatten the ground a bit and put some weed barrier etc. It's going in the place that eventually our playground will go but the kids seem more excited about a pool this year...so that's fabulous. $800 cheaper too ;)

Zion's 5th birthday is coming up on the 9th. I gave him some options this morning and he's hoping to do a small pool party. We'll see what we can work out.

It was sweet the other day ... Zunduka asked why I came to Africa to bring them home. :) I told him because we always wanted to adopt children from Africa and God told us it was to be Jacob and Meleki! They just LIT up into giggles. :)


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Life.

It's our life and we are loving it. In all of our craziness...we end up having a lot of fun too.

This past week I decided to switch the girls' bedroom around. We were able to give their very cool twin bed to a friend that could really use it...it was kinda neat..it was like a smaller crib almost if you put it against a wall. A great 'transition' bed. Well we moved the double bed from the spare room in...took apart the 'convertible crib' and made it into their headboard and went shopping. Two bedding sets from Walmart...one from Target... later....we made the decision. For less than half the price of the adorable Target set we got the Walmart one and it's super cute. We are having fun decorating. Who is 'we'? Good question. Ok "I" am having fun ;) We got a little mini papasan chair from Walmart with a very cool light fixture. Put their dresser (eye sore) in the massive walk in closet...loving it. Went and got a bed rail for Azahria and today painted. I'll post pictures soon but it's looking pretty adorable!

We got great news on Sunday...literally someone walks up to us at church and then comes back and voices her concern of being offensive (not at all!) and says she can help our "blond son". Ok...she happens to have her masters in something (that counted for us...I just forget)...specializing in deafness...and was able to look at him and tell me his diagnosis. Um...it took us about 2 years at Seattle Children's to get a diagnosis!!! Want to know the amazing news? She offered free therapy for him 2x a wk all summer...'just to help'. I could have cried.

So we have had to work with Zunduka's relationship with Azlan. He is frequently just plain annoyed with him and telling him to 'stop drooling'. Yes, it's a soft spot. ahhhh. So because of this I pair him up with Azlan to help him learn how to nicely tolerate others and also attempt to understand Azlan. They have been doing so great that Zunduka asked yesterday if he could sit with Azlan in the car. WOW!

Chazano is funny. Seriously funny. Zion adores him and is constantly telling me "I'm no longer the funniest guy in the family...Chazano is!" which is a very high compliment coming from Zion. Tonight I put Zano to bed and I gave him his vitamins. he looks at me and goes "mmmmmm popcorn!" makes a crazy face and pops them in his mouth. Duka and Zion were instantly in fits of laughter! :)

We are getting the other side of our fence done this week / next...and then putting up our 16' diameter, 3feet deep swimming pool in the 'playground' corner of our yard. We'll postpone the playground til next spring for now. The kids are sooooo excited about the playground!!

Piper had 7 puppies...6 black ones, one brown. 6 girls, 1 boy :) (no the brown one..is a girl). The kids adore them and think it's pretty cool they all get one each and then some. NO we are not keeping them (does anyone really keep 8 dogs...?) at 7 weeks or so we'll sell them.

Lots of sweet stories this week. Zunduka recounting the entire trip home from Africa several times now...pretty incredible. Not only the fact that it was in English...but the fact that he remembers it. Many kids post adoption kinda block out the 'previous life' pretty quickly. He is really cute.

The afros are growing you'll be glad to know. Totally a ball of velcro on their heads...everything imaginable sticks to it! :) However soon we'll be doing dreadlocks and I can't wait. :) Duka thinks that sounds cool but Zano definitely needs some convincing. Yes these nicknames seem to be sticking better as Azahria and Azlan already call them Duka and Zano. :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wow. Didn't know it's been so long!

So the short form of this post:
-We went to Canada and back.
-We came home to a completely bursting-with-pups Piper (we actually did doubt she was really pregnant...)
-Our weather in Tricities has been extremely out of whack. In 7 years we have never seen such a horrible spring and summer.
-We are all doing great.


Long form:

We left for Canada at 9:30pm of the big day we were supposed to leave by noon. Incredible, really. I was completely packed but there's always last minute things to do. This is the first time I had committed to leaving a spotless house behind which just about means having 6 kids sit on the floor with one book and not moving til we are out the door. When we realized how late it was getting Dean suggested going to bed and leaving first thing in the morning...but I had actually managed to have the house spotless and the kids were counting down to when we could start our trip so we opted to just get in the vehicle and go.

We drove for 2 hours and got a hotel for the night. It's quite funny watching the faces of the people at the front desk as we haul in, one-by-one, six small sleeping children. They all travel so well...we should do it more often.

The next morning we all got breakfast and got on the road. We are pretty strict with not being the family that everytime we get into the car a dvd has to be playing. So we started out our days with everyone just watching the scenery. It's cute how creative they can be!

One thing we realized we had to change quickly was everyone's need for an individual, separate, wait-til-Mama-and-Daddy-think-they-are-cruising potty break!! It was laughable...then worth crying over. Just ten minutes into the trip..."Zunduka's gotta pee"...we stop. "anyone else?" A resounding "NO!" from the back....20 minutes later "Azlan's really gotta go potty!" 10 minutes later Zion shouts "I gotta go NOW and I can't hold it". We stop. 20 minutes later Tirzah says "I'm really sorry but I really really have to go!" ahhhhhhhh. It was unbelievable. So we had to get tough. Yes this is how you maintain sanity AND have 6 small children. We stopped and made everyone pee on demand. Half of them looked at us like "we don't have to go" and a few said as much. But they all peed and yes we had hours that were potty-break-free.

Oh I meant to say that at the border they asked one of us to go in and wait for the passports. I went in and they called me into the interview room. The guy looked at me holding the Zambian passports out and said "I'm really sorry Ma'am...but we don't allow Zambians to come into Canada without a Canadian Visa...." I was quite relaxed and calm and asked him about the fact that the children are permanent residents of the USA...he opened the passports and looked at their US Visas and said "I am sooooo sorry, somehow I missed that. Here you go, you are on your way!" :)

We got to Dad's/Grampa's house Friday evening in time for dinner. We had a nice dinner with some family and visited for a bit. Zion was so cute following Michael around. Michael is Dad's (and Tracey's) foster child that is autistic. They have had him since before we were married 10 years ago and now he is 15 I think. Zion always gravitates to the older boys so it was cute to watch him follow Michael around. What he didn't know is ... that anything was different about Michael. Michael went into the bathroom to turn on the water and Zion followed laughing his head off saying "Mike, what are you doing now??" It was so sweet. Zion had no clue. He thought Michael was just being goofy and Zion was quickly his biggest fan. We did sit Zion down and tell him how awesome it was that he loved being with Michael. Zion just beamed. We also filled him in that God made Michael a little bit different than us and that he's not being goofy...he really acts that way. Dean told him it's very cool that Zion wants to play with him but his request of sleeping in his room with him...would be denied. :)

Grampa got home super late and Dean and I stayed up til almost 5 am talking to him. :) Yah he was only getting married the next day, no big deal! ;)

Saturday we all got on our way at 9:30 or so to head in to Winnipeg to the wedding. It was outdoors at a golf course and it was a very beautiful day. It was very pretty and a special day for us all. Tirzah LOVED seeing a wedding as she talks about weddings all the time. It was also the first time we have ever seen Tirzah interested in babies. Mika was there with Tanis and Tirzah was just oogling over her :)

After the wedding we stopped at Dean's fave ice cream spot and bought everyone an icecream for the trip back to Grampa's house.

We had some of our close friends invited over for the afternoon and really loved catching up with the very fabulous Stanley family :)

Sunday Tanis had invited some of our friends over for lunch and it was really fun to see them all again with their families. Later we made plans to go see some more friends of ours in Roseisle. Marv and Marlene Dyck and their gorgeous crew on Sunday afternoon and then Sunday evening to Marv's parents. We spent so much of our time with both families when we lived in Portage and it was great to see them all again. Last time we saw them we had a baby Tirzah...now we come home with 6.

Monday morning, afternoon and evening we spent time at some close friends' houses and really loved every minute of it. After dinner we headed a few hours away to Clear Lake where we had rented a cabin for a few days with some family. It was a nice time with not-so-typical-weather again but it was still nice. We rented a boat on one of the days (though freezing) it was a highlight for the kids.

Thursday we started for home. I really loved driving through Montana, it was gorgeous. Maybe it was also in contrast to the Canadian route on the way there...ahhhhh...;)

We arrived home late Saturday night at about midnight. I LOVED walking in the door to such a clean house!! That was worth every bit of effort before we left. I loved it so much I stayed up until 2:30am and did a few loads of laundry, started unpacking, etc.

It's funny how when you move away from 'home' you don't know if another place will ever become 'home' to you....this is our home. We have friends here, our church family is here, we feel like this is home. It felt so great to be back.

A few days after being back Dad and Mom Walker were coming through on their honeymoon. We had such a fun fun time with them and getting to know Mom especially. They showed up in a rented Volvo convertible which was just a dream for our kids. They all got rides. Grandma has her Masters in early education so she did school with us one morning and that was awesome to see all her ideas. We taught Zunduka how to use scissors too which was pretty cute.

So here we are--supposed to be in summer and not quite sure where summer in the Tri-Cities is hiding. The kids were over the moon to see little sprouts of green in our garden when we got home and it's been growing pretty fast ever since.

We are planning on moving the double bed from the spare room into the girl's room and even redoing their room a bit since we don't have bedding for the double bed. Bye bye crib and twin bed (they are sleeping in the twin bed together right now...one pillow at each end).

Zunduka seems pretty well done with diapers at night...I even forgot to put one on him the other night and he woke dry. We talk about it a lot. He is not allowed to have more than a sip of water past dinner time but every night we talk about getting up to pee and it's obviously working.

I've been to the chiropractor twice in 3 days which feels a little dismal to me ... since I've never had back or neck issues in my life. Both times I was told my hip is "very off". Fabulous.

We have been much more connected since coming home from Canada. It feels like we may finally be able to settle into a normal life having it behind us. Everything has been so crazy since coming home from Africa, it seems.

Chazano has turned very touchy-feely...primarily with Tirzah. She is always telling him "that's enough kisses for today"...it's quite funny.

Chazano is definitely coming out of his 'shell' more and more...and connects better with eye contact and expressions.

Azlan...my special Azlan boy. Ahhh this child pulls at my heart more and more. His drooling, that was completely done before I went to Africa...is not just back...it's back in full force. It's quite disheartening to have something you have worked so hard to reverse...show up and show up worse. He is 3.5 years old and his shirts are soaked within 20 minutes of getting dressed. It's a pretty sensitive issue in our house and there is zero tolerance for making fun of him. Chazano did say in the car "Azlan you are wet!" in a not so friendly tone. We have to be pretty careful. It's a medical issue, a symptom of his condition Hemi Facial Syndrome. Thankfully Azahria Peace has not yet noticed his drooling and she and him are two peas in a pod ;)

A friend of ours from church just said he thinks he is quite a bit ahead of where he was a year ago, speech-wise. It was good to hear that because it's hard to see the improvement. We still interpret 90% of what he says. I love him.

Tirzah lost her first tooth!! It was pretty sweet...she was made to lay down and let daddy take a tug at it with pliers....it 'just so happened' to fall off on it's own and she almost choke on it!! It was the sweetest thing ever...she jumped up and was saying "God did it...God made my tooth fall out so I wouldn't need Daddy's pliers!!" she could hardly calm down to go to bed she was so excited. :)

When we got home we had a box in the mail from Nana and Papa Procopio. They had sent $5 gift cards to Walmart to each of the kids. That was so much fun...taking them to the store to pick out their goods. Talk about loot for $5!!

Tirzah got a porcelein tea set.
Azahria got a very cute dolly.
Azlan got two little Black and Decker tool sets that he sleeps with (!!)
Zion got a water squirter thing
Zunduka got a boat and 4 big dinosaurs
Chazano got a boat, a tiger, lion and 2 dinosaurs.

Thanks Nana and Papa!

Oh everyone has changed their minds on what they want to be when they grow up:
Tirzah: "a pizza cooker girl that throws pizza dough up in the air!"
Zion: "a police man with Zunduka on a motorcyle"
Zunduka "yah a police man"
Chazano "driving an airplane"
Azlan "driving a choo choo train".

Should be interesting :)

My favorite verses from this week's reading:--reminds me of the name of this blog...Though the world sees and soon forgets...we will not forget who You are and what You've done for us....often it's in the small whisper we see him.

A mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 1 kings 19.