Saturday, June 25, 2011

He Was There

This evening we went to our friends' house for a going away party for some of our closer friends.  All the other families that were there had children under the age of 3.  Nevertheless, all of our older kids were super good and put up with screaming and crying, having toys taken away from them and being bashed over the head with toy hammers, etc.  I was quite proud of them.

It was fun to watch Brandon play with the toys designed for babies and toddlers.  He was seeing them for the very first time and very fascinated with the lights and the sounds.  In some sense, it is like having a toddler again discovering the world for the first time.  The excitement is very much the same though he is 11 years old.  We take for granted all that America has to offer.  From the time babies are born they are presented with colorful stimulation.  I’m not sure why we, Americans, feel babies and children need so much stuff, but everyone does it. 

Seeing him play with baby toys with such innocent excitement really made me have a bit of a pity party for myself.  I have missed out on so much of his life.  I missed his first bath.  I missed his first smile.  I missed his first steps.  I missed his first birthday (actually, I missed all 11).  I wonder if there was anyone that cared enough to observe any of his firsts.  Did anyone notice when he took off crawling for the first time?  Or was he just another kid on the move?

(Sigh). I don’t mean to seem so down today.  I am so grateful we get to enjoy his life now.  One thing that helps ease the hurts of this mother’s heart is knowing that God was there.  God predestined this precious boy to join our family.  He knows when Brandon smiled first.  It is God that preserved the joy in his heart!  God kept him safe and sustained his life until we came for him.  I hope that one day when Brandon learns English well enough I can share about the God who created him.  As for now, I will just praise God every day for bringing Brandon into our lives.  He is the greatest son on the face of the earth and I am so honored to be his mother. For I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Finders Keepers

This photo was taken after I emptied Brandon’s pockets of a week’s worth of laundry (Yes, I was a bit behind on laundry at the time, but not anymore!  For once in my life the laundry hampers are EMPTY). 

I’ve read in our adoption training and heard from friends that kids who are adopted from 3rd world countries hoard food and other items.   It’s still unclear to me whether or not Brandon’s tendency to fill his pockets with treasures is part of the hoarding, or just part of being a typical boy.  Our girls really never do this.  Yet when I posted this photo on Facebook many parents of boys said this is normal and welcomed me to the world of parenting boys.

Whatever this is, it really keeps me on my toes and makes me laugh at the same time.  Plus, I’m 27 cents richer!   Finders Keepers! ;)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!!!

Nearly ten years ago I fell in love with my husband all over again.  This occurred when I saw him in a new role for the first time in my life—the role called fatherhood.  They placed our squealing baby girl in his hands and he was a natural dad from the start.  I was very sick with blood loss due to my anemia and could not care for our baby myself for the first 24 hours.  He handled all the feedings.  He rocked her and sang to her.  He even changed her diapers.  He quickly became an expert “burrito baby blanket wrapper.”  I never could get the kids as perfectly snug as he could in their little burrito blankets.  
What makes Tim such a cool dad is that he juggles his role as the authority in our home and his role as a fun-loving daddy very well.  He gets right on their level and plays. Yet when one of the kids does something wrong, they are more upset about disappointing Daddy than anything else.  The kids know that he loves them dearly and that he genuinely loves to be with his family more than anything else.  So many dads get wrapped up in themselves or being workaholics that they miss out on the lives of their children.
It’s funny to me because as we were watching a movie the other day there was a rebellious teenage daughter that screamed at her daddy, “I hate you. I hate you!” and all 3 of our girls gasped out loud in shock.  Even Brandon’s mouth dropped open a little. Katie said out loud, “I don’t think I could ever tell Daddy that.  It just isn’t true and I could never say that.”  I hope our kids are always that way.  I really believe they have such a great relationship with Tim because of the time that he invests in them and he has participated in every area of their lives starting from Day One.    I’m so thankful that God gave me a godly husband and father for our FOUR children.  Happy Father’s Day, Tim!  I’ve included pictures of their Father’s Day cards because they really made me smile and I think they’ll make you smile as well.

This is from Brandon.  It says Papa and Mom in Russian.  I thought it was cute that he depicts Tim and I as King and Queen. :)

"Happy Father's Day, Papa" from Brandon

From Katie

From Kylie

I didn't get a picture of Haley's card because she is very sick, throwing up with the flu last night into this morning.  Poor baby.  I stayed home from church with her while Tim took the oldest 3. She got out of the shower and fell asleep like this for the next 3 hours.  She didn't move a muscle.  She was feeling better by this evening.

First Father/Son Event!

Tim and Brandon headed this morning to their very first Father/Son event!!—All the men in our church went Paint Balling. Tim showed Brandon You-Tube video of paint balling beforehand so he would know what he was getting himself into. Tim even showed teenage boys shooting at each other just to give each other welts. By seeing this, Brandon got SO excited!!  While Tim and Brandon were out paintballing, the girlies and I went shopping for flip flops.  We had a lot of fun having girl time together.

Brandon came back with a giant bruise on his back and one on his inner arm.  I asked him if he cried and he said, “Nooo, Me no Voman (I’m not a woman).”  He thoroughly enjoyed himself and is looking forward to going again next year. 
Target practice

Brandon's bruise on his back

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Do You Love Me?

All boy and full of tease! :)

With every family change, such as adoption, there is a range of emotions.  These are part of the growing pains.  I believe when you have THREE daughters, this range of emotions is a bit more exaggerated.  One by one the girls have taken their turns getting their feelings hurt and crying, “I don’t think Brandon likes me.  He’s always picking on me and rough.”  I am well aware of what Brandon is doing and I, personally, do not think that he is being overly rough or unkind.  For the most part, they instigate and he puts up with a lot before he retaliates.  It is always in playful spirit and never intentionally hurts them.  He is a strong boy and does not know his own strength or how sensitive little girls are.  When he does hurt them or see them cry, he is quick to say “sorry” and smile.  He is used to roughhousing with boys in an orphanage playground setting. 
Considering all that, I think he is doing very well!  As the girls come to me in tears, one by one I have explained to them that we are still all just adjusting to each other.  Brandon is not used to having three little sisters who are so touchy-feely.  They show their love by stroking his hair, scratching his back or hugging on him. They all 3 compete for his attention and in doing so, smother the poor boy.  Conversely they are not used to a brother who shows his love and attention by teasing, laughing at them or playing rough.  Each time they come to me crying I explain to them that Daddy, Uncle Billy and Uncle Steve were just as rough with Aunt Bethie (and she would probably tell you they were even less gracious with her and her feelings), yet all 3 brothers loved their sister dearly.  As adults they are in regular contact and can’t wait to spend time together….AND the best part is, they still show their love and attention by teasing, laughing and playing rough with her.
Tonight while the kids were playing each of the girls asked Brandon "Do you like me?" He said “Yes” to each of them individually and smiled real shy. Katie was extra brave and needed just a bit more reassurance and asked "Do you LOVE me?" to which he answered each sister "Yes. Love you." The girls really needed to hear that from him.
(Sigh.) All is well in the Kerr Household.  The girls know they are loved by their brother.
Kylie instigating

Haley joining in

Playful teasing

Kylie and Brandon taking a break

Brandon finally retaliating--he picked Kylie up and threw her in

Kylie picking on Brandon

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

One Month Today!

Brandon has officially been home one month today.  Time has flown by so quickly (unlike the 6 months leading up to the adoption)!  I can’t believe how much he has grown already.   He has such a wonderful appetite and gained 3 pounds already to prove it.   He’s experienced many things for the very first time such as an air plane ride, a train ride, milk (he is NOT a fan), eggs, pancakes, American school, Wal*Mart, a family, church, unlimited food supply, daily HOT showers, unconditional love and constant affection.  These are things many of us take for granted each day in America. He has also learned to ride a bike, to swim, to cast a fishing line, to hit a baseball, to make a sandwich and to roller skate.  His English is coming along nicely.  He learns new words and phrases every single day. 
We are so thrilled with how well he is adapting to a new country, a new language, a new life and a new culture.  Sometimes it’s felt like he’s been here all along because he fits our family so well.  We all love him dearly.  We hope he continues to grow healthy and strong.  We hope he continues to thrive in this environment….and most importantly we hope that he will soon fall in love with the Savior of this world who created him!  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your handy work is marvelous.  I know this well.” Psalm 139:14

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Family Olympics

Once a year we take a trip to Fantasy Lake Water Park.  I’m not as thrilled about the suspiciously brown water as I am about watching the kids play.  I’m perfectly content to not get in that nasty water, but to take pictures and to watch the kids grow in their bravery from year to year.  We usually plan our yearly trip to Fantasy Lake the weekend that 107.3 (the Christian radio station), holds their Annual Family Olympics.  This year was especially fun because everything was new to Brandon. He had the best time trying out all the water slides, the Tarzan ropes, the paddle boats and he even did the high tower jump.  Though the Kerr Family only took 2nd place in the Olympics, it sure was a lot of fun to do as a family!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Popcorn and a Movie

With as many kids as we have and with finances being tight with the adoption loan, we are forced to find cheap entertainment these days.  The 1st and 3rd Saturdays during the summer are Free Popcorn and Family Movie night at Hope Mills Lake.  We packed the Pilot with lawn chairs, a cooler of drinks and bug spray.  We loaded the family to drive down the road to the lake. There were small games for the children to play and chalk for them to draw on the ground.  It was such a family-oriented atmosphere and reminded me of the good old days of living in the country.  The movie tonight was Megamind.  Next time it will be Gnomeo and Juliet.  We all had so much fun and was FREE entertainment!!!  The only down side was that it was a late night and we have church tomorrow.  I predict a bunch of sleepy kids in the morning.