Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Do Over

Don’t we all just love the chance for a clean slate with the coming of a New Year?  For me it’s like a do-over chance for anything I messed up in the previous year.  It’s a restart button (I just talked “geek.” My hubby will be so proud.)   In 2013 I started out working out and training.  I was enjoying AWESOME results.  But I dropped off around October when we started traveling to and from Ukraine for the adoption.  I wish I’d continued working out.  I wish I would have helped Andrew more with his academics.  Actually, I wish I’d taken some time to slow down for ALL the kids.  I wish I’d studied God’s Word more.  I wish I’d sought His face more in prayer.  I wish I’d saved a few more dollars.  I wish I’d spoke a lot less and listened a lot more to others around me.  I wish I’d had more fun instead of taking life so seriously.

Haley-Alissa got a chance for a re-do when the nice lady at American Girl sent her a new doll to replace the doll she accidentally decapitated.  We all make mistakes, but the beauty of mistakes is when we choose to learn from them and not repeat past mistakes.  Everyone deserves a second chance! 
Brokenhearted by her mistake.....

She was given a new doll and a 2nd chance to take care of her doll
All smiles now!


Did you mess up at all in 2013?  Moses messed up.  He murdered a man, but yet God still used him to lead His people out of Egypt.  Jonah made a mistake by doing the opposite of God’s will, but God still used him to reach the people of Ninevah.  David had an affair with Bathsheba, and God still sent his Son through his bloodline and called David “a man after His own heart.”  My list could go on with examples from Scripture.  God can still use you or I even if we have made big mistakes!

I recommend forgetting the mistakes from 2013!!  Proverbs 24:16 says, “For a just man falls 7 times, but yet he rises again!” It is all about a choice!  This year decide to set goals for yourself.  A lot of people object to the traditional “resolutions” because they never achieve the resolutions anyway.  However, without goals you have nothing to aim for.  One of my Finance professors used to always say, "Failing to plan is planning to fail."  I read a quote in a book called Life Wide Open which says, “Passionate people, persist, persevere, never lose heart and never quit!”  So go get some goals, write them down, grab an accountability partner, pray for wisdom and strength to succeed and let’s head into 2014 with confidence and determination to be used by God!   I’m very much looking forward to a wide open slate in 2014 and for all that God has in store for our family. 

God bless all of you, my friends and family.  Happy New Slate! 



Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas. Oh Drama Mama!!!

We had a wonderful Christmas this year in our home.  I was so nice to stay in our jammies all day long and just enjoy each other.  Tim cooked a nice breakfast for the family and I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for our family since Tim & I missed out on a full Thanksgiving meal due to traveling back from Ukraine.  I’m not sure why, but I was really craving some butternut squash and turkey with gravy.  YUM!

She was surprised she got an American Girl doll!

The kids enjoyed all their gifts they received.  They played all day together without fighting.  Katie received mainly crafts much to her joy.  The younger two girls’ favorite gifts were their American Girl dolls.  It was fun to see the girls playing with their dolls for several hours.  So many times kids their ages are not playing with toys, but rather they are watching television or have their face in an ipod or ipad.  In the evening we went over and had desserts and gifts with my parents.  It was so nice not to be traveling and to just relax together.

The day after Christmas we had a little bit of drama.  I had just finished working out and was taking a shower when I heard a knock on the bathroom door.  Why does someone always have to knock when I’m in the shower?  Young moms, It seriously never ends.  When they were babies, I’d bring their carrier in with me to keep an eye on them while I showered and they’d start crying as soon as my hair was all lathered up and itchy.  As toddlers, I got tiny fingers and toes showing under the door from outside the door.  Now I get knock, knock, knock “Mooooom????” (Love, love all of my babies so much...but I do not love the knocking when I'm in the shower).

This particular knock was “Mommmm” in a crying, squeaking voice.  Haley and Kylie had gone down to the 11-year-old neighbor girls’ house to “play American Girl dolls” as they call it.  Haley walked all the way home crying, with her new American Girl doll’s HEAD in one hand, and the body in her other hand.  She was devastated!  Apparently she thought the string on the back of the doll’s neck was packaging material so she cut it with scissors.  This made the head detach from the body.  It made sense that she would think that it was packaging material because the strings to the boots of her doll also need to be cut in order to change into a new set of shoes.

She cried and cried about waiting her “whole life” for an American Girl doll and how she “killed her in only one day.”  She “really, really loved her and didn’t mean to kill her.”  I’d heard there was a hospital for these dolls.  So I googled it and got on the phone.  Haley was still wailing and crying about how sorry she was that she “chopped her head off” and “didn’t mean to kill her.”  The lady on the other end was walking me through all of our options.  Haley continued on and on in the background.  The lady asked, “How old is your daughter?”  I told her “She’s 8 years old and this is her very first American Girl doll.”  Then Haley whimpered with tears still rolling down her cheeks and sniffling snot, “I got 45 dollars for Christmas and she can have it ALL if she will just sew this head back on my doll.” “Where should I lay her dead body, Mama? I just loved her so much.”  The lady heard what Haley was saying and she said, “I’ll tell you what.  I don’t want Haley’s first experience with American Girl dolls to be a traumatic one.  I’m just going to send her a new doll for free.  Which doll does she want?”  So she allowed Haley to flip through the magazine and choose a new doll.  Whenever the new doll comes, we just send the “dead one” back.   Holy Drama, Mama!!! Girls!  Haley was so relieved when I hung up the phone, she wrote the nice lady a thank you note.  It was really hard not to laugh my head off (no pun intended) because her note was so darn funny! “Dear American Girl lady Thank you for sending me a doll with a head still attached.  I bet girls really like you. Love Haley

I started homeschooling last week.  It is going SO well.  We hopped in our Honda Pilot this past Sunday and the gas tank was still on FULL a whole week later.  Typically we have to fill up every single week.  With us not driving to and from the Academy every day, we saved a lot of money.  We have the kids spread all throughout the house.  Katie is on Tim’s computer.  Kylie is up in the loft on the resurrected laptop I used back in college.  Haley is in our master bedroom on my laptop.   

One wonderful thing about homeschooling is there is time for A LOT of one-on-one time. 

Though we have had a little bit of drama in this household over a broken, “dead” doll, over all homeschooling is a welcomed change and we have had a great week at home!  We have so much to be thankful for and I feel so very blessed by God.




Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Preparations

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father; Prince of Peace!” (Isaiah 9:6)

I am really trying hard this year to keep my focus on what the whole meaning of Christmas is!  Christmas is a time to reflect on the wonderful gift of Jesus Christ to mankind!  He was born for the sole purpose of dying so that we can live eternally!  Thank you, dear Jesus!  Look!  The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29).

Sometimes it is hard to keep my eyes on Christ when my heart is so heavy.  I am sad our “gift of God,” sweet Matthew, is not able to be home for Christmas this year.   He is really missing out on a lot of fun and we are missing out on his life every day that goes by. He is so far from home right now and I just want my fella in our nest with our other little ones.  We look forward to traveling back for our court date on January 14th.  We wish he could have been home in 2013, but we are so grateful we get to adopt Matthew Edik at all!  Praise be to God this Christmas we have the opportunity to give to Matthew the gift of family.  I am so honored to be his mama and Tim is honored to be his pop!

The kids did most the work of decorating the tree

My heart is also heavy because I miss Brandon especially around the Christmas season. Christmas was one of the only holidays we got to enjoy with him.  It is such a disappointment that his first Christmas was also his last Christmas with us.  Every year Christmas rolls around it feels like a fresh, new wound though the pain is always there.  It’s hard to pull out his ornaments that he loved and he is not here to hang them.  His motorcycle ornament.  His baby picture ornaments. His red race car and soccer ornament.  The nutcracker ornament that he repaired.  His stocking that will remain empty.  I can’t decide if it hurts more to pull out his things and display them or if it would hurt more to leave them in the boxes in the attic.  So we put them out and push through the tears that flow.  We must realize it is because of God’s only Son we know we will see our boy again and Brandon is having a blast in Heaven with other loved ones and God Himself.  
Brandon hanging his motorcycle ornament--his favorite ornament

I miss this happy blond boy!

It’s interesting because this year when I was unpacking Christmas decorations I found an ornament I did not remember.  I have no idea who gave it to us or when.  Perhaps it is because all of 2012 is a fog in my mind. It seemed to just turn up this year and it was still in the box it was purchased in.  It is one of those things that cheered me up because someone remembered our boy last year and that Christmastime would likely be difficult for us. Thank you whoever gave us this ornament. If it was you who gave us this ornament, will you please email and let me know?  

I’m so thankful we are not traveling during our Christmas holiday this year.  We had originally thought we were going to miss out on Christmas with our current children and would be waiting around for paperwork in Ukraine.   I am glad we are not missing this year.  The girls would have taken it pretty hard if we were gone as well.  

This week I enlisted the help of my elves to do some wrapping.  They each wrapped a gift and I told them I would judge who did the best job.   My oldest elf, Katie, has been helping me wrap many gifts and she is an expert gift wrapper at this point!  

Love these two little elves

They’ve all been counting down the days until Christmas since December 1st.  We are all excited to have Christmas and New Years and see what the Lord brings in 2014.  

For anyone grieving for any reason this holiday season, may these words encourage your saddened hearts: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” I’m so glad God has given us so much hope and joy in the midst of sorrow!

Merry Christmas to Everyone!

Friday, December 20, 2013

What If It All Stopped?

Seven years ago, exactly, we moved to this town and when we did we hit the ground running.  We opted to live outside the city because our city is the 5th most dangerous city in the nation.  By moving outside the city to the country, we found that we saved money on city taxes and have more safety for our family.  There is just one problem:  We live a half hour from EVERYTHING.  We spend at least an hour a day in the car running to and from the Academy.  We run “into town” for shopping and for this or that.  Weekdays we wake up at 6:00 and run, run, run all day.  Then we get back home at 4pm where the children work on homework an average of 2 hours per night.  I still need to cook dinner, the kids have chores.  They need to take showers and we are pretty busy until we drop into bed at night.  Wednesdays we hurry up to get home at 4pm, so we can let the dog out, so we can hurry up, eat dinner, clean the kitchen, and get back “into town” for church by 6.  Church is over by 8 and we travel back  home, settle the kids, get them showered and their teeth brushed before falling into bed after 9pm.  With active kids there is always something with the church, school, or an activity with their friends, but these activities are always "in town."  

We didn’t realize how hectic our lives are until we adopted.  Brandon would moan any time we had to leave the house.  He was a home body like his Mama. 

Tim and I had some time to sit and think last month while we were in Ukraine.  We looked at Matthew and thought to ourselves that we do not want him to arrive in America and jump into our crazy American lifestyle smack in the middle of a school year.  With Brandon's adoption, he arrived at the end of the school year, so he had all summer to adjust to our family and American lifestyle.  Brandon adjusted seamlessly. 

The girls’ world has been rocked over the last 3 years.  They have joyfully adjusted to Brandon, then mourned his death; they’ve gracefully and sacrificially dealt with us coming and going to Ukraine with the adoptions, handled Tim’s business travel, and now they look forward to their soon-to-be new brother, Matthew “Edik” which will be, no doubt, another adjustment.  We are super excited to get Matthew and feel so blessed to be called by God to adopt him.  God is SO GOOD.  But we are all tired.  

On the car ride into town a few weeks ago the kids were grumbling about having play practice, a Christmas program and some other things “in town” that they didn’t want to attend.  I asked the kids the question, “What if it all stopped?”  Their mouths dropped open and they all voiced that they were tired…with life.  The girls have begged us to home school them for at least 3 years.  They are tired of piling into the car for the commute.  They are tired of homework.  They mentioned 10 or 15 things with which they are “tired.” They’re just kids and they are tired with life.  It made me sad.  They all expressed that if the busyness stopped, they would be so happy and feel free! 

They would have free time to play creatively and to read books for fun.

So, Tim, unaware of my conversation with the kids, came home from a week-long business trip and said, “What if it all stopped?  What if you resigned from your job and began homeschooling the kids…in January?”  We talked about how calm that would be.  I would travel alone back for our final trip to Ukraine to get Matthew and come back home to my current 4 children and just “be.”  We can all bond at our own pace.  Matthew won’t be shoved into a hectic way of life.  It is traumatic enough for these kids leaving the only world they know in Ukraine and come to America.  

For now, after researching many options I’ve decided that the girlies are going to do the A Beka video streaming courses and Matthew will do ACE paces and perhaps Rosetta Stone.

Our goal is to take a season off to rest and then re-evaluate at the end of May or June.  We will then decide if we will sell our home and relocate our family in town and place our kids back in the Academy or if we will just stay put and continue homeschooling.
I am sad to give up my job at the church that I’ve had for 5 years.  I attained my Master’s Degree in Accounting and now I won’t even be using my degree for what I was trained.  It is terrifying to have to go down to one income again.  It is a definite sacrifice on behalf of what is best for our children.  However, I am SO VERY EXCITED to be with my precious children.  I am happy to honor my hubby’s request that I teach our children in our home. It will be so nice to not get in the car 6 days a week.  I am thankful that Tim works hard outside the home to provide for our family so that I am able to stay home.  I am grateful that our country still allows families to teach their children in their own home.  I am prayerfully hoping this works out well with our girls and Matthew will thrive.  

Ever since Brandon died a passage that runs through my mind often is Ecclesiastes 3 and I have realized the reality of seasons in our lives.  “There is a time to be born and a time to die…there is a time to plant and a time to reap….a time to tear and a time to sew, a time to keep silence and a time to speak.”  For our family, this is our time to make it all stop.  It is our time to silence the noise in the lives of our children.  It is a time to regroup after 3 years of turbulence.  It is our time to grow together and to heal.  It is our time to rest.  We pray that God blesses our family and our submission to His will for our family in this season of our lives.   


One glorious thing about birthing all girls is they won’t come home with critters.  When I found out I was having all girls, I sighed relief and praised God for His blessings because I have a slight (correction, MAJOR) case of “Critter-phobia”….which is, of course, “the fear of anything creepy, crawly, little,  slimy, tiny-furry, prickly, with tiny eyes and legs or antennas.” Girls don’t bring into the house frogs or toads.  They don’t hide snakes in their pockets.  Turtles won’t go through the laundry.  Bugs are never in random boxes in their bedrooms.  And definitely no critters would travel in their backpacks to school.  They don’t touch smelly fish with their bare hands. They don’t poke rats or bats with sticks. Girls just don’t play with critters.

…..unless they are MY girls.  In which case, the above paragraph is completely null and void.  Brandon never did such a thing because he also had Critterphobia 

So my itching rash, shortness of breath and high-pitched shriek when encountering  or being presented with a critter is apparently hilarious to these naughty children….and I blame their father for teaching them to behave so uncivilized and disrespectfully to their mother.   ;) Just remember, my little blessings, MOM knows who's been naughty and nice! 

Florida chameleon & Kylie

Baby robin that fell out of the nest (the grey birds ate the rest)

Kylie and Haley and the fish

Haley and Kylie with toads

Sea horse

Haley and her cousin with all kinds of sea critters

Haley and turtle

Kylie (age 5) and a different turtle

Haley (3) and Kylie (5) putting the turtle under the umbrella so it wouldn't get wet

The bat they poked with sticks

Haley and lady bug

Kylie and her friend's hamster

Haley with FOUR daddy-long-leg spiders

Two-year old Kylie with a flower...I can take flowers

3 year old Katie with a frog/toad

2 year old Kylie KISSING the toad/frog

2 year old Kylie and toad/frog

Tim!!!  Yuck!

2 year old Haley with lady bug

20 month old Haley with frog

8 year old Haley with a leaf bug and snail

Naughty child chasing after me with her leaf bug and snail